The Bournemouth Christmas Parade attracted thousands of shoppers to the centre of Poole on Sunday despite the economic gloom.
Santa’s arrival at the Poole Quayside, courtesy of RNLI lifeboats, has given charities and local shops a boost amidst fears of a slow Christmas. Town centre manager Richard Randle-Jones said “It's purpose is to celebrate the coming of Christmas and to kick start Christmas Shopping in Poole.”
The parade that included ‘The Dolphin Marching band’ and stars from the Lighthouse panto Dick Wittington, gathered at the Quayside to await Santa’s arrival. Over 25,000 people watched the event with crowds up more that 10,000 than the previous Sunday. Reindeer keeper Ed Halligan, 30 said “this is our third parade already this year.” The Reindeer came all the way from Ashford in Kent and included two that were only 6 months old.
Money raised from the parade will go to the children’s charity Julia’s House, volunteer co-ordinator June Maidment said “the generosity of Poole people and the money from the collection will be a terrific help in the care we can provide to our families.”
Mr Randle-Jones said “My objective this year is get an extra 200,000 people shopping in Poole this Christmas and this is why Poole is attracting families with the Children's rides and the Ice Rink.” Bethan Trick, 30, a Jewellery expert from ‘Past Times’ agreed “its gets people in the Christmas spirit and since they brought the rides and the stalls we have noticed a marked increase in sales.”
However not all shops feel that the boost from the parade will last, Carol Childs, 35, from Morton’s Gift Shop said “there is a ten minute mad period but then they all disappear.” Mrs Childs added that many shops liked to think it boosted trade but were not convinced, “these days it’s hard to encourage people down to this part of the town.” Mr Randle-Jones also expressed concern “The higher fuel prices have reduced the number of people travelling from far away to other towns to spend their money on shopping.”
To donate to Julia’s House you can visit www.julias-house.org/ or phone 01202 607400. To contact ‘The Reindeer Centre’ or to adopt a Reindeer you can visit www.reindeercentre.co.uk or phone 01233 820545.