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PICTURES: Turnout of over 1000 for Wick festive switch-on


By Alan Hendry

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Wick Christmas Lights Committee chairperson Claire Mackenzie counts down to the switch-on as gala queen Abby Dunbar, assisted by Santa and Mrs Claus, prepares to light up the town centre. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Wick Christmas Lights Committee chairperson Claire Mackenzie counts down to the switch-on as gala queen Abby Dunbar, assisted by Santa and Mrs Claus, prepares to light up the town centre. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

A crowd estimated at more than 1000 turned out to celebrate the switch-on of Wick's Christmas lights in the town centre on Saturday.

Organisers said they were amazed at the Fun Day attendance, while the 30 market stall holders were reported to be delighted with the support from the public.

New lights worth £13,000 are brightening up the town this festive season thanks to the volunteers of Wick Christmas Lights Committee, a subgroup of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council.

The switch-on was carried out by gala queen Abby Dunbar, assisted by Santa and Mrs Claus, at the Christmas tree in Market Square.

There was also a grotto, along with the children's umbrella parade from the riverside.

The weather was kind, with chilly but dry conditions and little or no wind.

Claire Mackenzie, chairperson of the Christmas lights committee, said: “I worry about the weather every year but thankfully we were really lucky.

“It was amazing to see so many people. I reckon there must have been over 1000.

Crowds packed into Wick town centre on Saturday afternoon for the switch-on of the Christmas lights. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Crowds packed into Wick town centre on Saturday afternoon for the switch-on of the Christmas lights. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

“We're really lucky and I say it every year – we do live in such a generous community. We know everybody is experiencing the cost-of-living crisis, everybody is struggling.

"There are a lot more local traders nowadays doing craft things, and a lot of breweries and jewellery makers and things like that, and this is their opportunity to shine.

“Last year we had quite a big market and this year we had a waiting list for stalls because everybody realised that it was a really good day.

“We had 30 pitches on Saturday, so it's up there with the biggest outdoor markets in the north. We've already had a few traders saying they had such an amazing day that they want to come back next year.

“The community turn out in their hundreds to support us and every penny helps. Everybody is commenting on the new lights that we've installed.

“We spent about £13,000 on new lights this year. We've been saving for a long time to get this, so it's lovely to see that folk appreciate it.

“And everybody really appreciates the hard work that we do, because we are quite a small group. We get a lot of support from local businesses as well."

Two-year-old Ayla Harvey with her umbrella. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Two-year-old Ayla Harvey with her umbrella. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

Hugh Simpson Contractors again gave access to machinery, while local man Davy Crowden sourced the tree. “He has picked quite a cracker of a tree this year,” Mrs Mackenzie said.

All the stalls were loaned by the Wick and Thurso community markets.

"It made it look really good," Mrs Mackenzie said. "We are very grateful for the support that we get."

She added: “The umbrella parade was well attended and some of the effort that these kids put in is amazing.

"I very rarely ever get to see any of it, I'm too busy in the Market Square, but everybody loves it and all the shop owners love watching it come through the town. It's so well attended.”

A sea of umbrellas mixing with the crowds in Wick town centre following the switch-on of the Christmas lights. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
A sea of umbrellas mixing with the crowds in Wick town centre following the switch-on of the Christmas lights. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Five-year-olds Rhiannon Gilmore-Sutherland (left) and Lauren Newlands, both from Bettyhill, meeting Santa and Mrs Claus in their grotto during Wick Fun Day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Five-year-olds Rhiannon Gilmore-Sutherland (left) and Lauren Newlands, both from Bettyhill, meeting Santa and Mrs Claus in their grotto during Wick Fun Day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Seventeen-month-old Skye Gannon with Santa, along with her mum Kyrie Mackay and dad Barry Gannon. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Seventeen-month-old Skye Gannon with Santa, along with her mum Kyrie Mackay and dad Barry Gannon. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Harry Souter with Santa during Wick Fun Day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Harry Souter with Santa during Wick Fun Day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Wick twins Orla (left) and Isla Budge with Santa and Mrs Claus. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Wick twins Orla (left) and Isla Budge with Santa and Mrs Claus. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
The Wick RNLI stall was a popular attraction throughout the day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
The Wick RNLI stall was a popular attraction throughout the day. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Claire Mackenzie (centre), chairperson of Wick Christmas Lights Committee, had family help on the group's stall. From left are her son Russell, mother Eleanor, son Brody and husband Graham. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Claire Mackenzie (centre), chairperson of Wick Christmas Lights Committee, had family help on the group's stall. From left are her son Russell, mother Eleanor, son Brody and husband Graham. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
On the Friends of the North Baths stall, Patty Coghill (right) and Donna Plowman with a very young helper – Donna's great-niece, three-month-old Taylor Manson. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
On the Friends of the North Baths stall, Patty Coghill (right) and Donna Plowman with a very young helper – Donna's great-niece, three-month-old Taylor Manson. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Ten-year-old Finn Gallagher all ready for the Wick Fun Day umbrella parade. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Ten-year-old Finn Gallagher all ready for the Wick Fun Day umbrella parade. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Umbrellas light up the Wick riverside as they wait for the parade to start. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Umbrellas light up the Wick riverside as they wait for the parade to start. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

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