DON’T be surprised if you see dozens of children dancing the Hokey Cokey and shouting at the top of their voices on the canal bank this week.
There’s a good reason for it.
If the children shout loud enough, Santa appears from around the corner on a snow-covered canal barge laden with goodwill and presents for everyone.
From Monday to Friday, more than 550 disabled and disadvantaged youngsters are making the trip to Shepley Bridge Marina, Mirfield, to see the water-borne Father Christmas.
It’s the highlight of the year for many of the youngsters and has been made possible by the members of Rastrick-based charity the Safe Anchor Trust.
This is the 18th year that the Trust has organised the Santa Special and the event is more popular than ever – and not just with children.
The youngsters all get to personally meet Santa, who gives each child a present. They then enjoy craft activities and refreshments, before receiving a goodie bag and returning home.
Founder and chairman Les Moss said: “It is absolutely wonderful. We hide the boat and the children do the hokey cokey.
“They shout for Santa and when they shout loud enough, they hear his bell and he comes round the corner in his snow-covered boat.
“It is lovely to see their faces when he appears.”
This weekend, the charity is offering the parents and grandparents of all local children the chance to take a trip down the canal from the Lidl supermarket at Mirfield to Santa’s grotto at Shepley Bridge.
The charity, which raises money throughout the year to pay for the free weekday Santa Special, started organising a Christmas weekend trip for the public several years ago, due to popular demand.
Over the seven days, more than 70 volunteers will be involved in the two events.
The weekday trips are free, and there is a £7.50 charge for children on the Saturday and Sunday boat excursions. Parents and grandparents travel free.
The Trust will be running three boats, which take a maximum of 12 people, between 10am and 3pm on both days. To be sure of getting a boat, visitors are asked to turn up by 2pm.
Anyone interested in the weekend boat trips should turn up by the boats on Station Road (outside Lidl) between 10am and 2pm on Saturday or Sunday.
The charity, which is run entirely by volunteers, has raised over £2m and organised boat trips for 130,000 people from 750 community groups.