EXCITED youngsters from a Billingham primary school joined 1,500 local children in singing their hearts out for Christmas festivities.
Pupils from Billingham South Community Primary School took centre stage for the launch of the popular Stockton Sparkles festival.
It saw them join hundreds of youngsters from across the region take part in a huge torch-lit procession at the big launch on Thursday night.
It followed weeks of rehearsals by the children from the school in Belasis Avenue, Billingham.
Stockton Sparkles is a four-week Christmas festival organised by Stockton Borough Council, and this year’s programme promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Eight-year-old Matthew Willis, a pupil at Billingham South Community Primary School, said: “The best bit was seeing thousands of people coming to watch us and the good atmosphere on the night.”
The centre of Stockton was transformed into a sparkling wonderland and the children were joined by the Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Kathryn Nelson and Santa Claus himself.
Participants, aged four to 88, represented more than 30 schools and community groups from across the area.
Joe Hammill, lead singer of the group Cattle and Cane, who performed on the evening said: “The interest from schools and community groups has been overwhelming for this event.
“We wanted to create a mass sing-along to rival any other in the country.”
School rehearsals were co-ordinated by Stockton council’s creative partner, Mike McGrother.