‘An extremely hard decision’ - Model village cancels Christmas event
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A model village on the coast has cancelled its Christmas event over concerns about financial viability and the safety of visitors and staff.
Santa Claus will not be visiting Merrivale Model Village this year after its owners decided to keep the attraction closed until February half-term next year.
Normally the miniature village, on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth, would stay open until Christmas Eve, with visitors enjoying festive stalls and children queuing up to see Father Christmas.
But owners Frank and Frances Newsome announced they have made the “extremely hard decision” to stay closed for the remainder of this year’s season due to the impact of the pandemic on both finances and the safety of staff and customers.”Please accept our sincere apologies to anyone who was hoping to visit Father Christmas this year, this was not an easy decision for us to make,” they said on Merrivale’s Facebook page. “We hope to see you all again, in what we hope will a much brighter 2021.” The attraction employs seven full-time staff, including the owners - all are currently on furlough.Mr Newsome said: “We feel more like we’ve let a lot of our customers down but in the circumstances we thought we’ve made the right decision.“We have had a lot of enquiries asking about bookings to see Santa, but we couldn’t confirm any bookings.“That was another reason for making the decision.”MORE: Legendary Yarmouth attraction stages tiny coffee morningThe model village has been putting on Christmas events for the past three years.
Like other tourism and hospitality venues across England, it had reopened after the first lockdown on July 4.
The first few weeks were quiet but after that business “did pick up”, Mr Newsome said.
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“We had a very busy September and October. Speaking to customers, everybody was staying at home, having a staycation.
“We’ll never recoup what we lost but we’re hoping next year will be busy,” he said.
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Fans of the miniature park reacted to the news on social media.
Jemima Diab-King said: “We really hope to see you open again next year. Great Yarmouth wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Kelly Marie Smith commented: “A holiday in Yarmouth isn’t complete without a trip to Merrivale.”