Reigate put aside wet weather to enjoy its customary start to the festive season on Saturday 1 December, with Santa arriving in Priory Park in the morning and the Reigate Christmas Fayre taking place in the afternoon.
One part of the day missing this year was the free evening fireworks in Priory Park, as Reigate on Ice isn’t running (but may be back in 2019).
Kicking off events in the morning, low cloud meant that Santa came by road rather than helicopter – only the second time he’s been unable to land in over 50 years, according to organisers Redhill & Reigate Round Table. The club’s volunteers had hoped he’d still be able to arrive by air right up until “the last moment”.
Children were still able to see Santa perform his usual walk and wave in the Priory School playground, after he’d dismounted from his trailer, before he headed into his grotto. The Mayor of Reigate & Banstead, Cllr Dorothy Ross-Tomlin, was also there to greet him.
Thanks to donations, the Round Tablers managed to raise over £3,000 for good causes, a figure they’ll add to during December, as one of the groups who organise Santa’s tour of local roads in the run up to Christmas.
In the afternoon, it was the turn of Reigate Business Guild’s volunteers to get everyone in the Christmas mood, as they hosted the Christmas Fayre in Church Street.
Performances from the Reigate School of Ballet, Priory School, Reigate College, The Dolomites, Dunnotar School and New Music Nights, as well as a traditional Punch and Judy show, were among the acts that kept the Church Street crowds in festive spirt despite periods of rain throughout the day.
Local traders such as Reigate Manor, Chalk Hills Bakery, Willows, Crumbs Brewing, and Quattro Rish were among those who did a brisk trade, with residents and visitors keen to pick up mulled wine, hogroasts, cakes, homewares, beer and other festive items.
The fayre raises funds for the town’s Christmas lights, and these were switched on as the finale to the day: thanks to the guild’s fundraising efforts a new set was unveiled, replacing the scheme that’s been used in recent years.
As usual, the button press for the lights was performed by a star of the panto at the Harlequin in Redhill – this year Ann Widdecombe, who is playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White – and the Mayor.
Parking was free of charge in the town’s council-run car parks.
Jes Chandler, chair of the guild said:
“What a fantastic day and effort by everyone, the Tombola raised over £2,800 on the day and this is all thanks to the generosity of the local businesses in the town.
There were thousands of happy faces on the streets, some fantastic entertainment on the stage and the most diverse offering from the stallholders ever.
The best fayre to date, a really dedicated and hardworking team, most of whom started at 06.00 and finished at 19.30”.
Caroline Clarke who leads the Christmas Fayre committee said:
“The fayre is wonderful day for the town, the atmosphere is amazing and it brings the whole community together. I would like to thank the Christmas Fayre committee for all their support and hard.
We now have a few weeks off before we start planning 2019”.
Reigate Business Guild, founded in 1991, has around a hundred members, ranging from sole traders to large corporates.
A message from Santa! We’re so disappointed he couldn’t land by helicopter yesterday, safety had to come first. So grateful so many still turned out to welcome him in his sleigh 🛷. 100% of your generous donations will go to food causes in RH1 & RH2 pic.twitter.com/J46WyC0g10
— Reigate Round Table (@RT_119) 2 December 2018
— Leader of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council (@RBBCLeader) 1 December 2018
— Reigate Guild (@ReigateGuild) 1 December 2018
— Dunottar Music (@DunottarMusic) 3 December 2018
Well done to all that kicked off Christmas in Reigate today. Despite the terrible weather Santa 🎅🏻 still made it, raising £1,000’s for local good causes via @RT_119 and the @ReigateGuild put on another awesome Christmas Fayre! Oh and our lovely Mayor took a shine to Crumbs! 🍻 pic.twitter.com/Bnb4RUxhJg
— Crumbs Brewing (@CrumbsBrewing) 1 December 2018