RINGWOOD councillors have admitted defeat and cancelled the town’s popular annual Christmas spectacular event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Members admitted the decision would cause “great regret” to many but said the prospect of large crowds gathering was “unacceptable”.
They had already significantly reduced the event from its normal format, which included a market, fun fair and talent contest, in a bid to go on with the show, which was slated for 29th November.
Deputy mayor Cllr Philip Day said: “I know that this will come as huge disappointment to the local community who may struggle to understand the decision to cancel the market in particular.
“But the majority view of my councillor colleagues who were tasked with making this very difficult decision was that as so many other Christmas festivities and markets had already been cancelled, the risk of attracting large crowds into the town for the event was unacceptable.”
He said stallholders had been “remarkably understanding” and any that had paid fees already would be refunded.
Mayor Cllr Tony Ring, meanwhile, stressed Christmas was “not cancelled” in Ringwood, as all shops and business would be invited to decorate their premises as part of a Winter Wonderland competition that will encourage shoppers to buy presents locally.
He also said he will switch on the town’s festive lights with Father Christmas, which will be recorded by Ringwood TV and broadcast on social media.
“Santa has also kindly agreed to record messages for children who will not be able to visit him in his grotto this year and is discussing with me how he might be able to receive presents for all of the disadvantaged children to make sure that despite all of the current difficulties, they too can celebrate the season of goodwill to all,” Cllr Ring said.