Tangled Santa makes global headlinesBy Paul Cassell
November 21, 2012
Santa being left dangling merrily at the Broad Street Mall's Christmas lights switch on has made international headlines.
Father Christmas was left standed as Corrie stars Chris Fountain and Michelle Keegan got the festive season under way in Reading in front of a huge crowd at the shopping centre on Saturday.
But a Santa's earlier surpise entrance went less to plan when his beard ended up tangled in the ropes as he abseiled in from the roof leaving him stuck high above the seasonal celebrations.
An Army elf had to give him a helping hand and snipped his whiskers free with getreading undestanding Santa's mishap had reached news networks as far as Australia,
TV stars Michelle and Chris, who play Tina McIntyre and Tommy Duckworth in the ITV soap, arrived to deafening cheers and screams at the mall.
“I’m really excited to be here, thanks for having me,” said Michelle. “Show me how it’s done in Reading now, how you celebrate Christmas!”
They joined mayor of Reading, Councillor Jenny Rynn and Broad Street Mall manager Steve Fawke to push the plunger and turn the shopping centre into an Arctic-themed wonderland.
As the decorations lit up, balloons and streamers fell from the ceiling to popular Christmas hits as Santa continued to sway above the stage before the Weatherfield couple signed autographs for fans.
“It was a great welcome, there were more people there than I expected,” said former Hollyoaks star Chris.
“I didn’t know what I was actually expecting, but when we got out there it was all you could see people upstairs, downstairs, it was great, it was really nice.”
Michelle later Tweeted: “Thank u to every1 who came down today to say hello, u were all SO lovely. After switching on the lights I’m feeling very Christmassy!”
Earlier shoppers enjoyed live entertainment including several acts that appeared in this year’s Has Reading Got Talent? competition hosted by Robert Kenny and Andy Jones from Reading 107FM.
Among those performing were Starlet Rock Choir, Berzerk Productions, Four Seasons tribute act The Jersey Guys, Elvis impersonator Gary Maillard as well as contest winner Abi Bowden.
Broad Street Mall mascot Topsy Turvy Ted handed out free gifts to children who could also have their faces painted and visit Santa in his grotto.
Mr Fawke said: “That was the biggest crowd in the eight years I’ve been here. People have come down to see Michelle Keegan and Chris Fountain turning the Christmas lights on, and what a fantastic time.
“And Santa coming down from the roof – gosh, what more could you want?
“Unfortunately he got a bit stuck, but it’s all part of the drama.”
Santa's entrance at the Broad Street Mall has spread faster than he can deliver presents
Centre manager Steve Fawke admitted he had been inundated with calls from the media from as far afield as Germany over Father Christmas’s festive mishap at the shopping centre.
And Santa's dangle tangle appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning.
The Beard Liberation Front also dared to suggest Santa’s beard was false. Its Campaign for Real Santas urged parents and children to give any Santa beards a tug to see if they were in the presence of the real deal.
Santa was eventually rescued by Staff Sergeant Mark Brown and the Reading Post understands he has now returned to the North Pole to prepare for Christmas.