Forres town centre is now all lit up after a team of volunteers spent the day erecting the festive lights.
The usual annual event where crowds gather to countdown the lights being switched on had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
However, the Christmas Lights Committee was determined to still spread some joy to the people of Forres and the lights were switched on at the weekend without the usual pomp and ceremony.
Alan Hunter, chairman of the committee said: “Never did we think that we would be have to switch the lights on in secret, but it was the only way to do it safely and we are delighted that they are now up and on.
“It was massively important to us that the lights still got switched on this year, possibly more than any other year as we need something that will cheer up these dark nights.
“There is nothing that we would have loved more than to have been able to have our usual community event, but unfortunately like so many other important Forres events, this year it was not to be.”
Traditionally the lights have always been switched on, on the last Saturday of November with crowds congregating at the Tolbooth around the Christmas which is donated by Moray Estates and delivered by Tommy Gill.
Last year’s event included a Christmas market in the town hall, a fancy-dress parade, Elgin City Band, the Forres and District Junior Pipe Band, Kinloss Military Wives Choir and performances from pupils from the town’s schools.
“Over the last two years we have started to expand on what we offer to the community,” explained Alan. “We had hoped that we would be able to add some extra excitement to this year’s event. However, we are just delighted that the lights are up and we will all have to make sure that in 2021, we come back bigger than ever before. I want to thank every single volunteer who gave up their time.”
Over 20 volunteers spent over nine hours ensuring the lights were erected. Their work was supported by AJ Engineering who donated the use of a cherry picker operated by director and general manager Graham Alexander whilst the Forres Heritage Trust which looks after the Tolbooth allowed the volunteers to use the courtroom as a base for refreshments throughout the day.
Malcolm Simmons who was volunteering for the first time said: “It was a fun day and good to do something for the community as well as lend a hand to those who have been working hard to put up the Christmas lights for many years.
“As a family we always attend the switching on of the lights, so I felt it was important for me to give something back to the community and helping with the Christmas lights was the perfect opportunity to do something that everyone in Forres can enjoy.”