Eastbourne’s Christmas lights will be turned on this Thursday evening amid a festive extravaganza taking place in the town centre.
Pantomime star Carley Stenson, who appeared in the Channel Four soap Hollyoaks, will turn on the 60.000 Christmas lights with the winner of a ballot, Justin Wilkins, the branch manager of NatWest Bank in Eastbourne, at approximately 6.45pm.
He will be joined by his wife Emma and daughters Erin and Evie aged 10 and five.
The grand switch on marks the climax of the Stars and Ice Christmas lights campaign after months of hard work and thousands of pounds raised.
The Eastbourne Herald and Gazette, MP Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and businesswoman Laura Murphy have all worked have all worked together to light up the town with 60,000 LEDs.
The event starts at 4pm, with mulled wine and gift shopping on Eastbourne pier.
There will then be a parade from the pier at 6pm, with Stix Drummers leading the way down Terminus Road.
There will be entertainment at Bankers Corner, before panto star Carley Stenson – and prize-winning member of the public Justin Wilkins – turn on the light display at 6.45pm.
Christina Ewbank, of the Chamber of Commerce, said, “Thanks to The Herald and our MP Stephen Lloyd, the town has really rallied round to raise funds for these lights and we are so excited to see them for the first time on Thursday.
“We plan to add to these lights every year until we have a really spectacular display Eastbourne can be proud of.”
Brewers of Eastbourne was one of the latest businesses which donated money to the cause.
Melanie Adams, retail development manager, said, “When we were approached to help out we were really impressed by the plans to upgrade what has, in the past been frankly a disappointing display.
“The Stars and Ice campaign means that residents will get a wonderful Christmas lights display and we’re proud to be part of it.”
Businesses, organisations and members of the public have all rallied to the call to raise money for the festive lights campaign.
That included Judith Brown, owner of the Sheldon Hotel in Burlington Place, asking visitors to donate £1 and set up her own variation on the ice bucket Facebook campaign called the Stars and Ice challenge.
Judith asked her nominees to tell everyone about a song that is really irritating, make a donation to Eastbourne Stars and Ice Christmas Lights Campaign and then nominate at least one other person to do the same, spreading the word through Facebook.