Half term got off to a flying start for families visiting Priory Meadow shopping centre, where a traditional fairground style chair-o-plane ride was the star attraction this week.
The carousel ride is among a host of fun activities bound to get children into a spin during the school holiday, including face painting, balloon modelling and crafts.
Donations are also being collected in aid of the St Michael’s Hospice in Hastings throughout the event, which runs from Saturday, February 11 until Saturday, February 18.
There was a romantic twist in store for those who visited at the start of the week, as giant characters in the form of a Minion, Fireman Sam and Elsa from hit Disney cartoon Frozen mingled with shoppers to hand out red roses for Valentine’s Day.
There was also a Valentine’s themed treasure hunt called the Cupid Love Trail, which ran from Saturday until Tuesday.
Among those enjoying the fun filled atmosphere was five-year-old Julia Sobol Radecka from Hastings, who was out and about with her new baby brother Jacob for the first time. Her mum Anna said: “It’s been a fantastic day for us all, really lovely.
“Jacob is just a couple of weeks old and as it was half term for Julia we chose today to take him on his first ever trip out as part of the family.
“When we got to the shopping centre and saw all the fun events going on it made the day even more special. We’ll remember it forever.”
Julia is a pupil of St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School, and said she will have lots to tell her friends when the holidays are over.
Anna added: “She’s really had a good time and looks like a happy flower girl as she had her face painted with pink and purple flowers and green leaves. It’s really pretty.”
Shoppers are being invited to make donations in aid of St Michael’s Hospice, Hastings, in return for having their faces painted or joining in a craft activity during the event, which runs each day from 11am until 4pm.
Anna added: “I think it’s a great idea that the shopping centre has done something like this for local families and also to help a good cause.
“It makes shopping much more fun for everyone and gives the children a reason to look forward to coming here. It’s brilliant.”
Sam Peck and her daughter Scarlett Franks, aged two, are also big fans of the Priory Meadow Shopping Centre events. Sam, who works in a newsagent in Hastings, said: “We made a beeline here today as we know the activities they put on are so good. We’ve been to the Hallowe’en and the Christmas celebrations and they were great, so we didn’t want to miss this.
“Scarlett has loved it. The first thing she wanted to do was the treasure hunt. She was whizzing round like a Wurlitzer, dashing from store to store trying to find the colourful hearts posted in the different shop windows. She managed to find all the hearts and was over the moon when she got to choose a prize as a reward for her efforts.”
Natalie Ajibade, marketing manager for Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, said: “The fact that this year’s half term fell in the same week as St Valentine’s Day gives it an extra special boost, with lots of love and good feeling in the air. It was wonderful to see families having such a good time and the lively vibe in the air was a real pick-me-up for everyone who works or shops here.”
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