THOUSANDS of families in Ringwood have been left disappointed by the news that the Christmas parade will not take place this year.

The annual procession through the market town was one of the highlights of the town's social calendar and always attracted a huge crowd.

Last year businessman Jim Stride stepped in after Ringwood Chamber of Commerce announced that the event had fallen victim to the economic climate.

But civic leaders have confirmed that no-one came forward to organise a procession this year.

Celebrations will be confined to a Santa hunt, plus a festive market with carol singing.

Councillor Michael Thierry, a former mayor, said: “Christmas in Ringwood is going to be rather low-key this year.

“The town has had some really good parades over the years with everything from reindeer to camels. Last year Father Christmas arrived by helicopter but this year nothing is happening at all.

“Jim Stride made it very clear that he wouldn't be able to do anything for 2012 and said he hoped other folk would come forward, but no-one did.

“I wouldn't say Christmas is cancelled but this year we've only got one cracker in the box instead of 12.

“There's a great deal of disappointment in the town. Something that was once a tradition has now died, causing a lot of regret. It's a great tragedy.”

The future of the event had been in doubt since the departure about two years ago of the long-time organiser, Belinda Charlton, who was manager of The Furlong shopping centre.

Cllr Thierry added: “Each year she did something to galvanise the town. The parade always ended up at The Furlong but the rest of Ringwood benefitted as well.

“It's something the chamber of commerce should get involved in. The town council don't see it as their function to stage something like this.”

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