This year, Penarth’s Labour-controlled town council is proposing to axe the annual Santa Claus Christmas Parade – which in previous years has been the prelude for the annual Christmas Lights Switch-on Ceremony.
The parade has been axed because of a reduction in the allocated budget for the event and the lack of grant-funding – following a financial overspend last year.
This year’s Penarth Christmas Lights Switch On will be held on November 19th – the earliest date the event has ever taken place.
The famous personality said to be “available” to carry out this year’s Christmas Lights Switch-On (no definite commitment has yet been made) is the well-known South Wales comedian and broadcaster Owen Money – who is also scheduled to appear in pantomime at the Paget Rooms.
In the previous years the annual parade has featured an open horse-drawn carriage which conveyed Father Christmas and his “partner” from West House in Stanwell Road to the special stage set up in the town centre.
Last year, following Dave Horgan’s decision to reliquish the role, a freelance Town Crier and his partner were called in to lead the parade.
This year – with evidently tighter budgets – the council is being recommended by the Town Clerk to scrap the parade altogether.
In 2013 the Labour council also splashed out on hiring a luxury limousine for the then Mayor of Penarth (now former town councillor) Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) to ride 750 yards through the streets waving to cheering crowds. In later years the Mayors walked – along with everyone else.
In 2015 however the entire Christmas Festival – including the parade – was cancelled a very short notice because of the weather. It was restored in 2016.
Previous parades have also featured dancing-girls in Christmas costumes and even a pair of real – if rather unruly – reindeer , accompanied by what some residents thought was the unseemly spectacle of town councillors clad in yellow high-viz “health and safety” waistcoats – shaking charity collection boxes at the crowd .
An internal council report says “It is planned that the traditional parade element not form part of this year’s activities”
Also wiped from the white-board of this Christmas’s plans is “Late Night Shopping” which proved a disappointing flop last year and never really worked in previous years.
After last Christmas’s somewhat dismal Late Night Shopping Event, the Leader of the Council Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) somewhat pointedly reproved his council colleagues – telling them that he had not seen many of THEM out shopping that evening.