FATHER Christmas made the first of his seasonal visits to Wellington town centre on Saturday (December 9) as the festivities slipped into overdrive.
The Rotary Club of Wellington-organised event took place next to the town council’s giant Christmas tree in High Street.
But shortly afterwards, shoppers looked on as a host of lookalikes passed by as the annual Santa’s On A Bike ride came through the town centre.
Some of the Santa's On A Bike riders in Wellington town centre on Saturday.
Several dozen motorcycle, trike, quad, and scooter riders all dressed in Santa and other costumes, such as snowmen, elves, Grinches, and reindeer, roared through the town with horns blaring and engines roaring.
They were raising money for the Children’s Hospice South West and were travelling from Taunton to the hospice headquarters near Barnstaple, in North Devon, after stopping for local riders to join them at the McDonald’s restaurant in Chelston.
It was one of a number of mass rides taking place across the Westcountry, which have raised tens of thousands of pounds for their local hospices in the more than 10 years that they have been organised.
The ‘real’ Santa could be seen waving to the lookalikes from his Rotary sleigh, which will also be used to give him a tour of Wellington in the coming week as he personally checks all the houses that he will visit on Christmas Eve.
He has given Rotary members who will help him a list of where he wants to travel between 6 pm and 8 pm each evening, which reads:
• Monday December 11 Cades estate - Bramley Close, Popham Road, Mills Drive, Aspin Road, Aspin Close, and Damson Crescent
• Tuesday December 12 Priory estate - Priory, Kelway Road, Baynes Close, Gay Street, Humphries Road, Lillebonne Close, Gay Close, and the Priory loop
• Wednesday December 13 Longforth Road area - Roly Poly Green, Olands Road, Brendon Road, Quantock Road, Howard Road, Penny Close, Parklands Road, parts of Churchfields, and Drakes Park
• Thursday December 14 Waterloo Road/Station Road area - Springfield Road, Holyoake Street, Seymour Street, Mitchell Street, Owen Street, Bovet Street, and George Street
• Friday December 15 Longforth Farm estate - Lillebonne Way, Thomas Place, Gregorys Crescent, Proctor Road, Gamlin Close, Tredwin Close, Proctor Road, John Coles Close, and Prices Avenue
Santa will also be in the new Lidl supermarket on Sunday (December 10) and will be back in Wellington town centre on Saturday, December 16,
Members of Wellington Silver Band were also playing in the town centre on Saturday morning, setting themselves up outside the Co-op supermarket.
Although it was a mild day, it continued to drizzle throughout the morning but the weather did not seem to put off shoppers.
Wellington’s three public car parks in North Street, South Street, and Longforth Road were almost full for most of the day because parking was free after the town council said it would cover the cost of parking on each Saturday up to Christmas Day.
The town council’s Pop Up Shop had one of its busiest days as more than 50 local handmade crafters experienced soaring sales on both Friday and Saturday.
Handmade Pop Up organiser Alice Burns said: “It was so busy we could hardly keep up with the rush.
"On Friday, we could not believe how many people came in, we thought there must have been an event happening in the town centre to get so many customers coming in.”