Santa and his sleigh set to make return to Banbury in Covid-19 safe way

Santa and his sleigh are set to make their return to Banbury this month with the help of volunteers from the Banbury Cross Round Table group.

Santa and his sleigh are set to make their return to Banbury this month with the help of volunteers from the Banbury Cross Round Table group. (file photo from Banbury Cross Round Table Facebook page)
Santa and his sleigh are set to make their return to Banbury this month with the help of volunteers from the Banbury Cross Round Table group. (file photo from Banbury Cross Round Table Facebook page)

Round Table groups have been bringing Santa to the streets of Banbury for roughly the last 30 years. For many of Banbury’s residents it’s a part of the build up to Christmas.

A spokesperson for the Banbury Cross Round Table said: "With all the disruption caused by Covid it would have been easier to cancel the sleigh visits for this year. But, with it being such a difficult year for so many people, we decided that it was important to get out with the sleigh to give people something to look forward to and to smile about.

"The motto of Round Table is “Adopt, adapt, improve” and the plans have certainly taken a lot of adapting to keep both the volunteers and the public as safe from Covid as possible. We have presented a revised plan to run the sleigh on the six weekend nights in December to allow all of the equipment to be properly sterilised between each night.

"However, the intention is still for Santa to visit all of the usual areas of Banbury and surrounding villages that he would do in a normal year. This will be done by a combination of keeping the sleigh to the more major roads through each area of town and using a number of short stopping points so that people who don’t live on the major roads have the opportunity to walk and see Santa.

"As normal, the Santa tracker will be running on our website each night (banbury.roundtablesanta.co.uk) and we would ask that people follow the below rules to keep themselves and other people safe.

"If you live on one of the major roads on our maps, please stay in your house \ garden and wave to Santa from there. This will leave the pavements clear for those who are walking from further away.

"If you are walking to see Santa, please wear a face covering if you are able to, and remember to keep a 2m distance from other households even though we’re outside. If you get to the stop before Santa, please also remember to stand in a socially distanced fashion as Santa won’t be able to stop if there’s a crowd gathering.

"We’d also like everyone to remember to walk on the left hand pavement wherever possible, so they walk towards Santa on the left, cross the road when it’s safe and then walk away on the left pavement as well.

"Once Santa is leaving from the stop, please don’t walk with the sleigh, as this will create a crowd that could cause problems at the next stopping point.

"In order to be able to do this safely we need everyone in Banbury to play their part in acting sensibly, as the plans will be under constant review to make sure we can continue to operate the sleigh."

Usually Santa’s sleigh raises in the region of £15,000 for local charities and good causes. Due to Covid restrictions the round table won’t be collecting from door to door as usual.

There is still a way to donate online through a fundraising web page with peoples fundraising.

People can make a donation using the following website: https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/BanburySanta or if people prefer to give via mobile they can do this by texting “BANBURY x” to 70450 where x is the amount in pounds they wish to donate. Texts will be billed at the donated amount plus a standard network rate.

The routes that are currently planned are as follows. Some of the areas may have been modified slightly from previous years.

- December 5 - Bretch Hill and Park Road

- December 6 - Bloxham, Adderbury, Bodicote and Longford Park

- December 12 - Hardwick, Ruscote and Warwick Road

- December 13 - Poets corner, Easington, Cherwell Heights and Bankside

- December 19 - Queensway and Grimsbury

- December 20 - Hanwell Fields

All routes will run from 5pm to around 8pm. Maps of these routes will be published on their website at banbury.roundtablesanta.co.uk along with potential stopping points.