Hundreds of Wiganers to dress as Father Christmas for two festive events on the same day
Hundreds of people dressed as Father Christmas will come together for two special festive events being held on the same day.
Wigan Samaritans are organising a Santa Stroll, which will see people of all ages walk 7km through Haigh Woodland Park.
Other news: Wigan drink driver 'surprised' he was three times over the limitThey will all be dressed as Father Christmas as they get into the festive spirit and support the charity, which provides a listening ear for people needing someone to talk to.
The new event takes place at 10am on Sunday, December 8 and will be followed by a Christmas family fun day being held at the park later that day.
That means it is the same day the popular Wigan Christmas Dash returns to Mesnes Park.
Hundreds of people there will also wear Father Christmas suits for a fun run through the park, starting at 11am. Entries are open now.
Jess Robinson, events co-ordinator at Wigan Samaritans, said: “It’s fun and it’s great for Christmas.
“Obviously with Samaritans we know Christmas is not a particularly good time for some people, so we are trying to raise awareness, raise funds and make it an inclusive and healthy start to Christmas. Healthy mind, healthy body.”
Christmas Dash organiser Nick Abbott, from Orrell-based 8070 Events, said: "It’s a 5k fun run so people can run, walk or jog and bring their friends with them to get into the Christmas spirit.”
The stroll at Haigh is suitable for adults and children, with dogs also allowed to take part.
While families are being encouraged to go along, it is hoped that individuals will also sign up.
Mrs Robinson said: “Anyone can come along. If you are on your own, it can be an inclusive day for people who are not looking forward to Christmas - it’s not something everyone looks forward to.
“It might be a chance to meet new people, even volunteer for the Samaritans and learn something more about it.”
As well as providing a boost for people who attend, it is hoped the event will raise awareness of Samaritans and proceeds will go to the charity.
If it proves to be a success, it could become an annual event.
The Christmas Dash, meanwhile, is now in its seventh year.
The event will start next to the statue of Sir Francis Sharp Powell and participants will complete five 1km laps of the park.
They will be able to don Santa suits, which are available in child and adult sizes, and festive music will be played.
Once they cross the finish line, everyone will receive turkey sandwiches and mince pies, as well as either mulled wine or water. More than 350 people took part in last year’s dash and organisers hope even more will sign up this time.
People can raise money for causes close to their heart if they wish, with hundreds collected last year for Three Wishes - as well as other good causes.
Entry for the Santa Stroll costs £10 and people are asked to sign up before November 20.
The price includes the Santa suit, which can be collected from Wigan Samaritans, on Upper Dicconson Street, on two open days.
Register at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/santa-stroll-tickets-74613836995.
The stroll will be followed by a free Christmas family fun day at the park, which runs from noon to 4pm.
Attractions include an outdoor pantomime, brass band, festive circus skills, live music, bubble displays, golf tasters and a visit from Santa.
Wigan Christmas Dash is open to people of all ages and does not have chip timing, as it is a fun run. Entry costs £8 for under 10s, £15 for children aged 16 and under, and £20 for adults aged 17 and over. This includes the Santa suit and refreshments.
If there are spaces left, registration will be available on the day, costing an extra £5.
To sign up go to www.christmasdash.co.uk