THEY parked where they could. In places where on a normal day they might expect a ticket but this was Christmas.

This was Ely. This was organized, joyous mayhem.

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For months volunteers had been sought, the logistics ironed out, the teams gathered to make the task of bringing thousands into the city centre look seamless.

And indeed it was.

From the moment Star Radio DJ Ryan Taylor stepped to the microphone to welcome the crowds to the moment some hours later when the crowds thinned, the guest acts left, and the lights shone out onto emptying streets, this was a Christmas cracker.

“A huge thank you to everyone who came to the Ely Lights,” said Ryan. “It was once again an amazing experience to host it”.

The act made famous by ITV’s Britain Has Talent, the Loveable Rogues, proved an extraordinary success on the night.

Few would have begrudged the £5,000 spent on bringing them to perform on Ely’s premier family night. In short they were sensational.

“Cheers Ely for having us,” they tweeted. “You lot were a blast.”

Ian Newstead, one of those responsible for the lights event, had earlier spoken of their delight at securing The Loveable Rogues, pointing out that since the show they had been signed to Simon Cowell’s label and would soon start to release some records.

“Everyone should be really excited that they’re coming to Ely,” he said and indeed they were.

Also in Ely and to do the actual switch on itself was rising pop star Totally Sophie who described her visit to the city as “absolutely smashing.”

She said: “I felt honoured to be the one switching on the lights. Loved every minute. Thank you.”

Singers, dancers, musicians and purveyors of hot food and beverages also did well but among the revellers a small but serious protest movement was afoot.

Those opposed to car park charges were on hand to collect signatures for a petition and to warn of what might happen.

“If they introduced parking fees it would simply kill Ely,” they told to passers by.

“Many businesses would shut due to less customers, and the city residents and workers who use the car parks will be considerably out of pocket.

“It is one reason Ely is unique to other cities and towns, we cannot stand back let this happen.”

It may well be the season to be jolly- but these hardened opponents were determined to warn of the affect on people’s lolly too!

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