Families got into the Christmas spirit as they turned out in their droves to welcome Santa Claus to Hartlepool.
Father Christmas’ grand arrival at the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre took place on Sunday.
The ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, Coun Rob Cook, led a procession to Santa’s grotto after children had enjoyed a programme of entertainment.
Santa was joined in his sleigh by nine-year-old Alfie Smith, who has cerebral palsy and whose family is trying to raise £50,000 to enable him to undergo an operation to enable him to walk for the first time.
Mark Rycraft, the shopping centre’s manager, said: “It was fantastic – what a superb turnout.
“It was great to have the Mayor there in his ceremonial robes as well. That was the icing on the cake. I can’t thank him enough.
This is an event which is always in the Hartlepool calendar now and it was terrific to see how many people came alongMark Rycraft
“This is an event which is always in the Hartlepool calendar now and it was terrific to see how many people came along.
“It was also fantastic to have Alfie involved. He had a smile on his face the whole time and is a real inspiration.”
Radio Hartlepool started the entertainment off before dancers from the Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts wowed the crowd in the lead-up to the full procession.
Representatives of Red Dreams, the Bishop Auckland Pipes and Drums, also performed, while members of the Hartlepool Round Table helped to pull the sleigh.
Coun Cook said: “Seeing the looks on the childrens’ faces was fantastic.
“It’s a lovely event and gets the Christmas celebrations started excellently.
“It was nice to see so many people in the town turn out with their families. That’s what Christmas is all about.”
After Santa was escorted to his grotto, Round Tables officials handed out chocolates, and magician Tony Junior showed off some of his tricks.