IMAGES: Harrogate believes in Father Christmas

Some of the team at Blueline Taxis preparing to put their 'I believe' stickers on their taxis for the month of December (s).

Some of the team at Blueline Taxis preparing to put their 'I believe' stickers on their taxis for the month of December (s).

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More and more businesses and individuals are joining the ‘Harrogate Believes in Father Christmas’ campaign, with Blueline Taxis the latest to get on board this week.

The campaign has been launched to see if it can be proved that Harrogate is the most Christmassy town in the UK.

Harrogate has grown its reputation as a town for Christmas following the success of the Harrogate at Christmas team who now arrange bigger and better lights around the town year after year.

This has been followed by the hugely popular and growing Harrogate Christmas Market which, only in its third year, last week attracted 52,000 visitors, many of whom travelled from all over the UK.

This year there’s the new Winter Wonderland at the Yorkshire Event Centre to complement the already hugely successful and popular Christmas Adventure at Stockheld Park on the outskirts of Harrogate and plans are underway for the best Santa’s Grotto in the north of England to come to the town next year.

So, the question has to be asked…..is Harrogate the best Christmas town there is ?!

Simon Cotton, General Manager of the towns Cedar Court Hotel and Past President of the town’s Chamber of Commerce certainly thinks so, and he came up with the idea.

He said: “Having witnessed first hand the community spirit in this town when the Christmas lights nearly didn’t happen six years ago and been involved in the Harrogate at Christmas Group ever since, I have seen how important Christmas is to so many of us in Harrogate.

“However, I believe it also goes far beyond the purely commercial aspect of what Christmas has become to so many people and believe that we’ve created a success in so many more ways because the true spirit of what Christmas is really about, really is alive and well in our wonderful town.

“To demonstrate this, and show the rest of Yorkshire and beyond that we really love Christmas in Harrogate, I am challenging everyone in businesses, but also I’d love the public to get involved, to show their support and do it by answering the age old question of ‘Do you believe in Father Christmas?’.

“I think if we can get this town to stand up and shout ‘yes’ very loudly, we’ll not only attract more visitors over the festive period, but I think it’ll really add to the fantastic community spirit that already exists for everyone who lives here.”

The latest people to join the campaign are Blueline Taxis who recognise the importance of Christmas to their business, being the busiest time of the year for them.

“Of course we believe in Father Christmas” says Paul Rushton, one of the senior Directors at Blueline. “

“We completely respect all the religious aspects of Christmas and what is means to many people and we also love the age old question of ‘Is there a Santa’, however we’re crystal clear in believing there is, as without that belief, it’d be a pretty dull Christmas for many.

“We have over 100 taxis and drivers who are happy to join the campaign and support Harrogate and we will be displaying our ‘I believe’ car stickers with pride of the rest of the month and would encourage others to as well.”

Mike Procter, owner of M Procter Opticians: “Reading labels on presents without his specs is snow joke for Father Christmas. “But they fog up in the rain dear” explains Mrs Christmas.

So we’ve given him some bifocal contact lenses this year – for overnight wear - of course!”

Steve Pepper, Vice President Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce: “Father Christmas? Of course there’s Father Christmas and he’s real! I saw him arrive at last year’s Christmas Market down near Montpelier quarter in Harrogate.

“He arrived along with his helpers and there were also a couple of his reindeers down at one of the stalls so small children and their parents could have a picture taken with them.

“I still don’t know how he manages but I suppose with all those little elfs to help him it will take some of the burden off him.

“Last year I got nominated as head elf at the market for ‘elf and safety and I’m also in charge of the toilets at this year’s Christmas market so I know I’ve now found my level in life!

“I must dash now as I have to put out some shirts for the ironing fairy. Don’t believe me? Well every time I put the shirts in the wash basket a couple of days later they’re all clean and well pressed and back in the wardrobe! (moves off to the strains of “well I wish it could be Christmas every day.”

Tara Stagman, Ake & Humphris Wine and Beer Specialists: “Christmas feels so magical. At the heart of it, we love the focus on family and friends (and a little bit of shopping hysteria!).

“We’ve always loved the peaceful atmosphere in our shop where grown-ups get to behave like big kids - picking out their favourite treats.

“We certainly believe in Father Christmas and hope he drops a few goodies down our chimney - although how they’ll miraculously make it through the bricked up wall and over to the tree, we’ll never know!”

Do you believe?

If you want to get involved and join the campaign, all you have to do is put a banner outside your business, a poster in your shop window, a placard at the end of your garden, or even a handwritten bed-sheet hung out of your window declaring your belief in Father Christmas.

Individuals can also get involved by displaying an “I BELIEVE” sticker on their car or similar which are available free of charge from the Reception desk at the Cedar Court Hotel. If you need stickers, posters or know how to arrange a banner, just email sc@cedarcourtharrogate or call into the Cedar Court Hotel, alternatively you can join the Campaign quickly and easily on Twitter using the hashtag #Harrogatebelieves.

So the question is, ‘Do You Believe?!’ ……and are you willing to publicly declare it ?!