MORE than 20,000 people turned out on O’Connell Street last Sunday evening for the turning on of the city’s Christmas Lights which marked the start of the festive season in Limerick.
Guests of honour, Vicky Phelan and her family, joined Mayor James Collins; Anna, Elsa and Olaf from ‘Frozen’; Santa Claus and the North Pole Elves at the ‘Light Up Limerick’ ceremony.
After helping switch on the Christmas lights, Vicky Phelan said the biggest reason for her to be excited was that “I didn’t think I’d be here at the start of the year. That’s what makes it all the more special for us this year.
“To be able to come in to Light Up Limerick in the good of my health and no pain, it’s great, because, last Christmas I wasn’t really well at all. I’m revelling in it all, to see all the crowds here, the support on Twitter, I can’t believe how many people are here already.”
“My son Darragh has been looking forward to it since he found out we would be turning on the Christmas lights, we bought Christmas jumpers and hats. The plan is to have a lovely Christmas at home with family and friends,” she said.
The crowds were entertained in the build-up to the turning on of the lights by street performers and special guests including Corpus Christi School Choir, members of the Limerick Panto Society, Limerick Gospel Choir and Myles Breen from the UCH panto.
They were also treated to a fireworks display while a snow machine ensured the most traditional seasonal weather enveloped the many children who sang Christmas songs as they witnessed the turning on of the spectacular display of LED Christmas lights across the city centre.
Earlier in the day the Liveable Limerick team staged their Charity Christmas Dash as O’Connell Street was taken over by Santa Clauses taking part in a variety of races including the Mr & Mrs Claus’s three-legged race, a celebrity dash, wheelchair dash and sack race. All proceeds went to Novas and the Peter McVerry Trust.
Mayor James Collins described ‘Light Up Limerick’ as a fantastic family-friendly event full of the wonder and awe of what Christmas represents.
“I was delighted that Vicky Phelan and her family were my guests of honour. Her determination for justice has struck a chord with the people of Limerick and Ireland and this is a way we can show her our support.”
“Light Up Limerick is the start of a wonderful festive season across the city and county and I would encourage everyone to get out and about and enjoy the festivities locally.”
Laura Ryan, Head of Marketing and Communications at Limerick City and County Council said: “Light Up Limerick always creates a real sense of excitement and anticipation about the upcoming Christmas season. This year there is a packed calendar in Limerick full of family fun events, shopping offers, live music and craft fairs on offer.
“A six-week campaign showcasing just how special Limerick is at Christmas time is now underway and we’re inviting everyone to come and enjoy Christmas In Limerick.”
— Limerick Post (@limerickpost) November 18, 2018
— Limerick.ie (@Limerick_ie) November 18, 2018
— Christmas in Limerick (@XmasLimerick) November 18, 2018
Limerick Culture and Arts Officer Sheila Deegan added: “Light up Limerick was a fantastic civic event to celebrate the start of the season of Christmas. We’re delighted that so many people came into the city centre to enjoy it with us.
“This opportunity to invest in culture and to bring new energy, synergies and events of scale to our citizens is a direct result of the Limerick Cultural Strategy and the strategic decision by the Council to invest further in culture in Limerick,” she said.
by Tom McCullough