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It's official - it's CHRISTMAS in Boston

The illuminated flock of birds was spectacular, but it was the enthusiasm of the hundreds of children which made "Christmas" night in Boston brilliant.

Their infectious excitement, and very vocal joy, lit up the town centre as they took part in another wonderful Christmas ceremony.

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The night sky was filled with brightly-lit swirling, whirling Christmas birds and the second annual Mayflower 400-inspired Illuminate parade, organised by Transported, the Boston arts organisation, was voted a huge success as giant paper-sculptured birds, lit from within, converged on the Market Place

Last year the festive season was launched with a parade of fish, waves and stars, making way for a giant model of the Mayflower - the ship which took the Pilgrim Fathers to America.

Big bird - wings flapped by Cllrs Richard and Alison Austin Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window 

Boston celebrated its connection with the settlement of modern-day America this year with a parade of swooping doves, signifying peace and liberty sought by the Pilgrims, and swallows, to symbolise hope and migration

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Pied Piper Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window Alison switches the lights on Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

The two marching columns approached the Market Place from Central Park and from across St Botolph's footbridge to signal the switch-on of the town's Christmas tree lights by Boston's newest Honorary Freeman of the Borough, Alison Fairman

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She was welcomed by Mayor, Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, who received a massive yell of confirmation when he declared Boston to be "the best town in the world".

This also signalled the start of a projected colourful light show on the tower of Boston Stump, displaying bird designs in which local groups and children have had a hand.

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Christmas fun in the town centre started earlier in the day with a Christmas market, fairground rides for children, face painting and a visit from Santa, who greeted good girls and boys in his grotto. It continued with free entertainment for the crowd from the stage

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The Illuminate parade looked at the themes which brought those seeking a new life in the New World to Scotia Creek, near Fishtoft, one dark night in the autumn of 1607.

 A choir on the stage in the shadow of the Stump sang Beyond the Horizon, the Mayflower song composed by a local musician and songwriter.

Different groups, including Wrangle School, Boston West Academy, Wyberton School, St Thomas' School, St Giles Academy, Boston Explorers and Fishtoft Parish Council had worked with artists to create their own bird lanterns to carry in the parade.

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LincsFM hosted the Market Place event while Endeavour FM hosted a follow-on lighting-up event in Pescod Square

Cllr Paul Skinner, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for the town centre, summed up the evening with one word: "Great."

He added: "Despite these austere times and strict constraints on budgets, it was another spectacular Christmas event in the town centre.

"Everyone enjoyed it, especially the children. It was totally innocent fun, and a real pleasure to witness. They were so loud, and obviously enjoying every minute of it. It shows what can happen when Boston puts its mind to it - we know how to party."

He praised all those behind the event, Transported, borough council staff and a huge team of volunteers.

The festivals will culminate in a huge international celebration in 2020 to commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower, and the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in America. For more information about Boston's connection to the Mayflower story, visit www.mayflower400uk.com/boston/

If you cannot get into the town centre to see the Christmas projections, check out the show on the Corporation Building which we have filmed for you on https://twitter.com/Bostonboro

Birds in Market Place Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window Colourful birds Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Mayflower song Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window On footbridge Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Big Bird Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window Flying solo Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Kathleen Smith and son Kai (11) Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window Outside Oldrids Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
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Dolphin Lane at Christmas Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Pictures by Andrew Malkin; Nathan Bryant, Black Cat Designs