Yesterday was the day that the Christmas festivities kicked off in Dunkirk and to start things off with a bang, there was a Father Christmas Parade at dusk. Just before the sun went down, and after manically driving round trying to find a parking place, we started off at the town hall, which has been embellished with festive red lights for the Christmas season.
We wound our way through the forest of four hundred Christmas trees that have been set out on the square in front of the town hall, looking at the illuminated displays, including this sparkling postbox for Father Christmas.
There were a handful of wooden chalets dotted around the paths with festive displays in them. They were cute enough but not a patch on the enchanted village that we've had for the last few years, with animated teddy bear displays. We didn't queue up to see Santa today because we had to go and find a spot to watch the parade but we'll be back another day. I definitely want a go on the cool Santa sleigh ride too - a man on a quad bike in a reindeer onesie pulling a fake sleigh around the town !! It's got to be done !
As it was now quite dark, it was very hard to get decent photos because either you left the flash on and they came out really dark like this one, or you turned it off and they came out blurry and unfocused because of the moving lights. You get the idea though !
The parade opened with some dancing cyborgs !
Hot on their heels were some steel band musicians heralding the arrival of the stilt walkers.
Their costumes were beautifully made and the lights looked really effective in the deepening gloom.
Some clockwork soldiers, gingerbread men and assorted toys were next to march past.
The costumes just kept getting bigger and better.
We were at the start of the route and the participants were full of enthusiasm, really playing to the crowd, but I bet by the end, they had severe arm and leg ache !
There was no guessing what would be appearing next - after the snow queen-esque stilt walkers, there was a brass band with the instruments covered in lights and the players all dressed up as animals !
Then some penguins ...
and snowmen ...
... and a strange locomotive.
The next part was my favourite - a herd of giant luminescent bears. That didn't sound right so I just went to check - did you know that it's a sloth or a sleuth of bears ? No, neither did I !
They look brilliantly realistic but are just made of transparent material over a wicker frame.
The guys underneath control them with sticks attached to their arms.
They're really lifelike, especially when they lean out over the crowd in a silent roar !
The squeals of delight and cheers from the crowds announced the main attraction, closing the parade - the man in red, who'd swapped his usual sleigh for a boat !
Night night Santa - see you soon !