Christmas Coming to Canton could be in jeopardy without Santa

The popular annual event ‘can’t go ahead without a Father Christmas’, says organiser

THE ANNUAL ‘Christmas Coming to Canton’ event along Cowbridge Road East is hugely popular in the community.

However, as funds dry up there is no guarantee that it will go ahead this year.

Cowbridge Road East traders band together every year to bring the event to Canton.

Organisers rely on donations from local traders to put on the event. Money raised funds Christmas lights, which cost £1,000 each, and buys gifts for the children of the area.

A key problem faced by organisers is their lack of Father Christmas. Due to limited funds, they need an unpaid volunteer.

Last year, the event was dependant on Tesco, which donated 250 selection boxes. However, the supermarket giant says it will only donate this year ‘“if we get a Father Christmas,” said Julia Richards, organiser of the event.

Richards, who launched the event five years ago, said: “A lot of things were happening on Cowbridge Road East – Tesco were making redundancies, shops were going empty, and we thought we would try and lift Cowbridge Road East.”

Since it began, the event has been a great success and is valued by the community.

Richards explained: “The whole idea is to provide for local kids. So many parents came up to us last year and thanked us for doing it because they couldn’t afford to take their children to go and see Father Christmas.

“I was very concerned that there would be kids who didn’t have a present and that would’ve been terrible.”

This year organisers have run into extra difficulty. Problems arising from Covid and the ongoing cost of living crisis have meant funding is limited. Roberts said: “We are scraping around, asking individual shops to come up with money.”

Richard Swambo, owner of Laura’s Fruiteries on Cowbridge Road East, said: “Christmas Coming to Canton is one of the best events for the community.”

Richard, owner of Laura’s Fruiteries, described the event as “great for the community.” (Credit: Billy Stewart)

Richard was Father Christmas last year, the first time Father Christmas was introduced to the event, which actually cost him £80 as he bought his own Santa suit but he “didn’t mind because it was a good event.”

The event is of additional importance this year, as many of the 250 traders along Cowbridge Road East continue to struggle.

“Trade is rubbish at the moment,” said Richard, who believes the Christmas Coming to Canton event could help support local business.

Richard’s fruit shop is among many independent shops on Cowbridge Road East that are dependent on the local community, and get a boost from ‘Christmas Coming to Canton.’

The Canton Cobbler and Calabrissella, both on Cowbridge Road East, are other donors to the event. Like Richard, they help because they recognise its importance to the community and local trade.

Event organisers, local traders, and members of the Canton community are all hopeful that a Father Christmas will be found soon, so plans can go ahead and ‘Christmas Coming to Canton’ starts as planned on December 9th.