THE countdown to Christmas has begun in Milford Haven, as hundreds of people joined in the fun at the town’s annual lantern parade and lights switch-on.

Led by Milford Haven Town Band, the cast from the Torch Theatre’s pantomime Aladdin, and a host of elves and Victorian ladies, families marched through the streets of Milford on Saturday evening, holding a variety of decorated lanterns aloft.

Father Christmas then joined in for the last leg along Hamilton Terrace, leading the crowd to the Town Hall, where his Christmas grotto had been decorated by Year Seven pupils from Milford Haven School.

Mayor of Milford Haven, Cllr Yvonne Southwell, thanked the crowd for turning out in their hundreds, and Father Christmas for “interrupting his busy schedule” to visit the town.

She also thanked the various businesses, organisations and individuals who had helped put the festivities together, including Milford Haven Round Table, Milford Haven Port Authority, South Hook LNG, officers from Milford Haven Police Station and radio presenter Jim Hughes.

Chairman of the Christmas Lights committee, Cllr Tony Eden, was also congratulated on his work in securing new lights for the town, and his fellow councillors were thanked for their help as road marshals.

The lights were then blessed by Father Harri Williams, before the big countdown. Helping the Mayor with the switch-on were ‘best Christmas picture or poem competition’ winners Kenzie Sadler-Norman, 5, from Milford Haven; Gracie Davies, 5, from Hakin; and Spencer Bate, 10, all from Hakin Community School.

Also helping out on the night were members of Milford Haven Youth Forum, Rhys Johnson, Ellie Boer, Blake Wonnacott, and Jade and Bethany Roberts.

“Everyone seems to have had a great time, which is what it’s all about,” said Cllr Southwell.