Melissa Curahova pictured at the crib in Market Square, Longford town ahead of the switching on of the Christmas lights last year Picture: Shelley Corcoran
Friday night is one of the biggest evenings of the year in Longford town with several thousand people expected in town for the annual switching on of the Christmas lights ceremony.
The event is jointly hosted by Longford Co Council and the local Chamber of Commerce. It will also co-incide with the annual Black Friday sales initiative and five years ago Longford and the local Chamber were the first in the country to launch a dedicated town wide initiative.
The day is now firmly established as one of the biggest shopping days of the years but for youngsters all eyes and attention will be on the arrival of Santa Claus, who is expected to arrive at the Market Sq for 6.30pm. Throughout the afternoon Santa Claus will visit local schools and creches in the town.
Looking forward to the big night, Chamber President, Niamh Donlon, said: "This is one of the most enjoyable nights of the year and there is always a fantastic atmosphere. We cannot control the weather unfortunately but we can guarantee that Santa is exciting and enthusiastic about getting back to Longford town to meet his many friends.
This year's event will also co-incide with the conclusion of the Chamber's successful retail loyalty promotion which ran in local businesses over the past two weeks.
Participating shoppers completed their loyalty cards in local shops over the past fortnight and all completed cards are entered in a draw to win €1,000, which can be spent locally this Christmas.
The winning card will be draw and the winner announced by Santa Claus himself live on the stage this Friday night.
Looking ahead to Friday night, the Chamber President paid tribute to the local authority and Gardai who have worked closely with the business group in the build up to the big event.
Ms Donlon said that the Chamber was very happy with the 'Build Longford Campaign' initiative which aims to highlight and promote local retailers and business with close to 1,000 jobs in this sector in Longford town.
She added: "A strong, vibrant local retail sector is critical to the town's recovery and in the build up to Christmas, the Chamber is encouraging the public to think of the many local jobs supported by local businesses."