Virtual Christmas Light Switch on lifts spirits of Coleraine residents

By Rebecca McGirr

Although the streets were deserted, the festive spirit was not in short supply thanks to the Causeway Coast and Glens councils’ virtual Christmas light switch on.

Mayor Mark Fielding arrived in a glossy, cherry red, horse drawn carriage. He waved to the camera as festive music played, uplifting our spirits for a year which has been nothing short of challenging.

Host, Mark Connelly, accompanied by colourful, Christmas characters such as the Grinch, braced with anticipation and excitement as they attempted to ring Santa.

Connelly brought it over to the Mayor, who stood isolated beside the Christmas tree in the empty Diamond square. Once flooded with a sea of people this time last year, had now become a desolate space, reminding us that this would be a Christmas like no other.

He encouraged us to show solidarity and support for local businesses, reminding us to help each other out through these tough times.

Then, Aimee Doherty began to sing, touching our souls with her heavenly take on the classic, Christmas song ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas.’

The song could not have been more fitting to the recent news that a Covid 19 vaccine was on its way, as she sang, ‘from now on our troubles will be out of sight,’ and ‘through the years we will all be together.’ The words were almost soothing, something that we needed to hear, providing us with the comfort and reassurance that everything would be ok.

The Portrush Theatre Company brought our laughter back and transported us to childhood pantos past with their performances of ‘Let it Snow,’ and ‘Winter Wonderland.’ ‘Dame Dotty Drawers’ as she’s known, began prancing around on stage, occasionally chiming in to the songs in her Northern Irish accent, adding to the hilarity.

The moment had finally arrived, the Mayor joined Connelly on stage as they counted down to the switching on of the lights.

“10,…5,….2,… 1!” Suddenly, Coleraine lit up, the glistening lights pulling the town out of darkness, into hopefully, for now on, a brighter future.