By NATASHA SMITH
Hundreds of children turned out at Forum Algarve shopping centre in Faro on Saturday to welcome their favourite white-bearded, jolly, seasonal friend.
Santa was cheered by children on both floors of the shopping centre when he arrived in style, in a carriage drawn by four horses. Obviously, he had to leave the reindeer at home so they could rest up for their hectic night on Christmas Eve.
He had his helpers with him to distribute some early Christmas treats to the lucky children, some of whom had been waiting at least two hours to catch a glimpse of him.
He did not disappoint and spent much of the day listening to what the children wanted for Christmas in his Grotto. Everyone who visited Santa received a gift and the opportunity to speak to the man in charge of Christmas wishes!
Shaped like an igloo, the Grotto was a winter wonderland scene with snow, reindeer and trees. On the far side was a television screen with seating, where children were encouraged to watch films about the environment and the effects of global warming.
Forum Algarve, along with a number of environmental associations and animal sanctuaries, including Zoomarine in Guia, believe it is important to tell children and adults about the animals and landscapes that are being damaged by humans.
In order to promote a greater respect for the Earth, an area was created within Santa’s wonderland where children waiting to see him could sit and watch videos.
Santa’s helpers were also on hand to talk about how children can help protect the environment and reduce the causes of global warming in a way they could understand.
One of Santa’s little helpers told The Resident: “Santa is so excited to be here as are we. He can’t wait to find out what the children want for Christmas so he can tell those elves to get to work!”
An ice rink has been erected in the centre of the precinct and appeared to be a popular attraction at Forum Algarve.
Last year, it proved to be a great form of entertainment and served to benefit the local community with all the proceeds going to charity.
Shop workers were encouraging people to ice skate for charity and admitted that they too would be seen on the rink when they were not working. The atmosphere throughout the day almost seemed like Christmas Day itself. The festive season officially began on Saturday in Faro and will hopefully continue until the big day!