Children from families in need of some extra Christmas cheer are being given the chance to go on an exciting quest to find Santa, thanks to the generosity of traders from Ballyhackamore.
Twenty-six big-hearted businesses have each sponsored a family ticket for the ‘Nearly True Christmas Tour’ where children, with the help of two intrepid elves follow the clues to find the jolly man in the red suit before his big day.
The tickets worth more than £1,000 are being distributed to families by the Walkway Community Association, East Belfast Mission and the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
At the end of the search every child will be presented with a gift, an official elf detective badge and a photo with the grateful Mr Claus.
Denise Magee, Chair of Ballyhackamore Business Association, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local Ballyhackamore traders. Everyone from large corporations to small independent retailers have bought family tickets. They will go to families who need some help at this time of year.
“The Walkway Community Association is concentrating on young working families who don’t receive the same benefits as people out of work and are financially worse off and Children’s Heartbeat Trust will give tickets to families who have siblings who aren’t ill but are often overlooked because mum and dad are naturally focused on the needs of the child with a heart condition,” she added.
Rachael Davison of the Walkway Community Association said it was a lovely gesture from the businesses. “It was unexpected and it’s great that some people are being given the opportunity to take their children on this exciting adventure. I received a text from one of the families who went on Saturday. They had a wonderful time despite the rain.”
Ballyhackamore Business Association has always taken Christmas seriously, and this year is no exception.
Engaging the irrepressible talents of Young at Art, Northern Ireland’s leading arts organisation for children and young people, and supported by Belfast City Council through the Retail Action Plan, this year Christmas is turning into a hunt for Santa. That’s right Santa has been kidnapped!
The ‘Nearly True’ Christmas Tour is an exciting walking tour around the village of Ballyhackamore, where no stone will be left unturned in the search for Santa.
The hour-long tour, which begins at Orlee Kitchens, is running every Saturday from 28 November to 19 December and further tours will be held on Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 December to ensure that Santa is found before December 25!
There will be three tours each day beginning at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are currently available to buy from Greens Pizza in Ballyhackamore. These are priced at £12 per child and £8 per adult and this will include a gift and a photo with Santa.
Ricky Armstrong, Vice Chairperson, from Ballyhackamore Business Association says: “We were looking for an alternative to this year’s festive activity and we really wanted to engage with the local children and their families. So, if you want an alternative to visiting Santa in his grotto, then we feel this is the answer. It’s sure to get all the kids, and we are pretty sure all the adults too, excited about Christmas.”
For more information on the Santa Tour go to www.facebook.com/ballyhackamore.business
And for more information on Belfast City Council’s support for local businesses, you can visit the council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/business