Snow makes first Christmas fair in Bognor Regis a success

SNOW made Bognor Regis town centre smiles better at its first Christmas fair.

Four snow machines pumped out the artificial variety of the white stuff to the delight of the crowds in the London Road preinct.

C141090-6 Bog Victorian  phot kate'The snow machine adding a festive note to the event.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C141090-6 SUS-140612-212125004

C141090-6 Bog Victorian phot kate'The snow machine adding a festive note to the event.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C141090-6 SUS-140612-212125004

They gathered around the businesses whose first floor windows were being used to bring the festive event alive.

Dozens of mobile phone photos were taken of it billowing around happy individuals in the breeze and sun.

Among those enjoying the spectacle was Claire Hibbert, 38, of North Bersted. She said: “This is really good. The snow is lovely. We wondered where it was going to come from.

“Our two-year-old son is certainly enjoying it. We’d come again to another event like this.”

Kate McMullan’s two children, Edward, ten, and Annie, nine, of Bognor, enjoyed playing around in the snow. She said: It was lovely to see Bognor so busy and the atmosphere was great.

“The magician was a real highlight too We are still trying to work out how he swallowed the balloon.”

Rebecca Clarke, 32, of Bognor, was there with her husband and 14-month-old daughter.

She said: “The kids’ bits are fun and good to see but there could have been a few more stalls.

“It would also have been better to see them with decorations. They don’t come across as particularly festive.”

Saturday, December 6, saw the temperature dip to freezing and stay just above on Sunday, December 7.

The Wonder of Christmas weekend combined some 12 stalls selling top-quality food with street entertainers and Dickensian characters. Father Christmas was also present in his map room.

The occasion was held by town centre manager Toyubur Rahman. He said: “This has brought a lot of people into the town and the overall reaction from children, parents and shopkeepers has been amazing.

“I’ve seen children and adults running around in the snow. I’ve had shopkeepers coming out of their premises to tell me how brilliant it’s been. The stallholders have done well generally, especially the ones selling hot food.”

Toyubur said lessons would be learned about matters such as the siting of the stalls. But he hoped the weekend would be repeated in a year’s time.

“There’s been lots going on and I want to do this again in December 2015,” he said.

Magician Nick Stein was a big hit. Crowds up to 100-strong gathered around his quick-fire Dickensian act in which oranges and melons played a large part. He said: “It’s been really good with nice crowds and positive responses.

“It’s been good fun and this is a nice place to perform.”

Usually found in Covent Garden in London, he said he would repeat his visit to Bognor if the licensing laws for street entertainers were more relaxed.

“It’s a shame the laws are so strict because this has gone well. There’s been some big crowds and everybody has enjoyed themselves,” he said.

Other entertainers included saxophonist Vicky Hills and singer Betsy Goodwin.

Dickensian character John Herbert was one of six from the Living History group.

John, 70, of North Bersted, looked as if he belonged to an era 150 years ago with a frock coat, top hat, a fob watch and a former police cape.

“It’s surprising how comfortable this clothing is,” he said. “It’s the little ones you get the best reaction from.

“They walk into shop windows because you look a bit strange to them. But adults just take it into their stride as if they see someone like this walking around every day.”

Staff in Boots and Kids Stuff Toys also dressed up from times past. Toyshop manager Lisa Sky and her staff were Victorian maids.

She said: “It’s been a wonderful weekend. The atmosphere has been crazy helped by the snow. The kids’ faces have been a picture.

“They look forward to coming into the shop and then they run out again when they see it’s snowing.

“We’ve got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up and we hope this becomes an annual event. We will definitely be part of it if it does.”