HUNDREDS of people gathered in Hartlepool town centre for a practically perfect festive event.
Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd kick-started the countdown to Christmas at the special Mary Poppins-themed switch-on.
The actor, who plays David Platt in the long-running ITV soap, was met by hoards of fans as he lit the town up and he was showered in fake snow.
He said: “It’s very nice to be here, but very cold, it’s a lot colder the further north you get obviously and I’m not used to being this cold.
“It was a great turn out. I wasn’t expecting that many people, and the lights, the tree, and the snow looks great so I think people enjoyed it hopefully.
“I’m a big Christmas fan, I do like it. There’s always lots of family, lots of friends, and you always see relatives that you only ever see at Christmas, so it’s always nice to see them once a year.
“There’s lot of drinking, lots of eating, lots of sleeping, presents obviously – it’s just a good month.
“I’m in the Christmas spirit now – apart from the traffic, there’s always a lot of traffic with Christmas and that’s a nightmare and it was a nightmare getting up here but I made it thankfully, and it was worth it.”
Jack was joined on stage by Hartlepool’s Ceremonial Mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher to press the all important button.
The Yuletide event, hosted by Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough, also included performances from Kate Sirs School of Music, who sang festive tracks including Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Silent Night, local girl Olivia Crawford, who sang All I Want For Christmas Is You, a chimney sweep dance by students from Hartlepool Sixth Form College, and stilt-walking troupe Glitter Belles.
Mary Poppins also took to the stage to sing tongue-twisting track Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the hit musical movie.
Sarah Goulding, 20, of Oxford Road, took her two-year-old niece, Alisha Hughes along to the event.
She said: “It’s been really good, especially for the kids.
“This is the first time we’ve come down but it’s been really good so we’ll be coming back next year.”
Kelly Dixon and John McPartlin, of Rossmere, were there with daughter Lilly, two.
Kelly said: “It’s great and Lilly loves this sort of stuff. I’m a Corrie fan so it’s great to see Jack P Shepherd turning the lights on.”