Why Santa makes it ‘Chrispmas’ down in Poplar
PUBLISHED: 20:00 22 December 2015 | UPDATED: 20:54 22 December 2015
© Rehan Jamil
Families turned out for the free “Chrispmas” festival—in East London’s famous ‘Chrisp Street’ Market, of course. It was the big extravaganza on the Christmas calendar for hundreds of children.
Traders and the local housing association laid on the seasonal treat at the Market Square, off Poplar’s main East India Dock Road near the Blackwall Tunnel.
The big draw, of course, was Santa, who set up his grotto in the market place where the youngsters took their wish list to make sure he brings the right toys down the right chimney at midnight on Christmas Eve.
But almost rivalling him in popularity were the cuddly farm animals, sheep and donkeys, brought from Spitalfields City Farm’s urban petting zoo.
Ramesses the Ram was the big hit down on the farm.
Craft and activity stalls were also laid out while Market Square was filled with music curated by Box Of Toys.
Face-painters did their thing and the Idea Store ran storytelling sessions.
A Makers’ Exchange pop-up market gave shoppers a chance to buy unusual hand-crafted gifts “made by locals with love”.
It ran alongside the usual shops and stalls which had oodles of cards, gifts, jewellery and even taxidermy mice!
But best of all, if you were hungry, was a mince pie eating competition.
Meanwhile street performers dressed as Christmas puddings, although they really weren’t edible.
The festival was the icing on the cake of Christmas season activities at Chrisp Street which started last month with MP Jim Fitzpatrick lighting up the giant tree in Market Square, after carols from five Tower Hamlets primary schools—Lansbury Lawrence, Manorfield, St Saviours, Bygrove and Mayflower.
The MP’s big switch had been followed by Embrace dance group with a lesson for movers and shakers.
‘Chrispmas’ is organised by Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association, known to its tenant families as ‘Poplar Harca’.
“Christmas is my favourite time of year,” Poplar Harca’s excited chief executive Steve Stride said. “It’s great putting on this show to see the community out together.”
It made him feel like a big kid again.
His organisation is one of the East End’s biggest social landlords managing 9,000 tenancies.
It regularly stages festivals for its vast “family of families”, with a little help from the purses of the High Streets Fund and the Mayor of London.
Other projects include employment and training courses, fitness classes, youth activities and pensioner groups to spread community spirit all year round in the East End.