There was a great atmosphere – and relatively warm, calm weather – as Stornoway’s Christmas event got under way just after 6pm last night (Friday, December 9)
It all began with the “Christmas Dash” which involved a carefully supervised mini-race in which young people and adults dressed up as Christmas characters for a mile-long run from the Lazy Corner on South Beach Quay/Cromwell Street Quay to the Spar Roundabout and back. It started later than timetabled…but was enthusiastically pursued by those involved.
All money raised from the Christmas Dash was donated to the Lewis Branch of Cancer Research UK - and a variety of prizes to the runners were presented later in the evening.
From 6.30pm onwards crowds gathered throughout Perceval Square where a number of mobile food outlets provided sustenance.
Early entertainment came from the internationally recognised Lewis Pipe Band who paraded down Cromwell Street and North Beach before taking a position to perform in the centre of the Square. The main road and adjacent streets were closed for much of the evening.
As the evening progressed there were dance performances in the Square from a number of groups including the Lynn Maclean School of Dancing, Ballet Hebrides, and the North-West Allstars Cheerleaders.
All sorts of stalls and shops were open in the area around the square – and a number of awards were presented to local shops and outlets for their Christmas displays. Those recognised included Hebridean Jewellery; Delights, Artizan, the Crown Inn, and the Caberfeidh Hotel.
The Christmas Message was given by Mr Iain Macmillan, Principal of Lews Castle College UHI, who emphasised the power of a sense of community, the need to remember the essence of the Christmas Message of giving, and the importance of preventing fears of an increasingly uncertain world from driving wedges between people.
Christmas music was provided by the Lewis and Harris Junior Concert Band and there was also carol singing to join in with…although relatively few people availed themselves of this opportunity despite the widespread distribution of lyric sheets.
In the background there was the festive cacophony from the fair in the Fisherman's Car Park while Santa was present in Pointers and there were stalls in The Town Hall.
Supervising the entire event and acting as MC was Stornoway Post Office manager Tim Durbin…who was also joined on stage at different times by familiar figures from the Stornoway Amenity Trust such as Charlie Nicolson and Tony Robson and by those involved in the local organisation of the National Mòd in Stornoway in October which was also recognised for its success.
The climax of the event came with the switching on of the Lights – which included major involvement from the Stornoway Port Authority that has decorated several of the massive lighting towers and the fences adjacent to the harbour. This was followed by a display of fireworks set up on the far side of the harbour.