Christmas parades are a longstanding tradition in the north-east, but for the first time in 13 years Santa Claus won’t be coming to town.
Des Cheyne, owner of Banff’s Spotty Bag Shop, has helped Santa and his reindeers visit the streets in a a parade and fun day involving local charities and groups since 2007.
But he has now confirmed that the tradition will come to a halt this year.
“We have taken the decision to cancel the event based on this year still being so unpredictable,” Mr Cheyne said.
“We realise we are not immune to the challenges that lie ahead and we felt that really, though we had the desire to push on with plans, the public safety is paramount.
“It’s an unfortunate decision.”
With no sign of a Christmas miracle and social distancing still vital in slowing the spread of the virus, Mr Cheyne feared any attempts to hold even a smaller version of the event were just too risky.
He said: “We looked at different avenues like still having just the reindeer for people to visit but it’s still not possible as far as social distancing and everything is concerned.
“It’s a shame, it’s been 12 years running and we have built it up to become a really good event. It seems to get bigger and better every year.
“Last year was our biggest yet with thousands of folk turning out. Hopefully next year we can make it something really special again.”
The businessman had footed the bill for the event each year since 2007 as a good-will gesture for the town.
The parade, usually held the last Sunday before Christmas, is a chance for local charities and groups to host fundraising stalls alongside reindeers and an appearance from main man himself.
Mr Cheyne said: “It’s often not until something is lost that you appreciate what you had.
“But it’s definitely something which could have finished off the year nicely and now won’t, sadly.”
And not only will the reindeer not be able to come to the north-east, but going to visit them isn’t an option either with Tui yesterday suspending all Lapland holidays for customers from the UK this winter.
The tour operator said it held off ruling out the “truly magical, once in a lifetime family experience” until as late as possible too, but said with coronavirus tests soon to be mandatory for entering Finland the firm wanted to cancel flights and “remove uncertainty for families”.