LONG gone are the days where councils organised grand Christmas lights displays – but in plenty of parts of Wirral locals are determined to keep the festive spirit alive.
In many parts of the peninsula, residents and traders have worked together to fund and organise beautiful festive lights this Christmas.
Here are some fine examples:
Sarah Briscoe, a volunteer organiser for the Hoylake and Meols Christmas Lights group, said locals got together in 2017 to light up their part of Wirral.
She said: "Previous groups had done it, but with this group things have really taken off. Fundraising is a true community effort.
"We organise people to collect in the roads they live in, it’s a great way to meet their neighbours.
"Many roads raise enough to sponsor lamp posts and pink trees, they have a plaque acknowledging their sponsorship. We also have individuals sponsoring trees in memory of loved ones."
Ms Briscoe added businesses also get involved and some locals even set up standing orders to help fund the festivities.
Ms Briscoe added: "Our volunteers put up the lights in the trees saving us thousands of pounds in installation costs.
"They spent hundreds of hours of their spare time this year putting up the new pink lights and shop trees, which the shops pay for.
"The [volunteer] group meets once a month – it's a case of the 12 months of Christmas for us and we're already planning for next year."
She said the volunteers are keen to respect the charitable spirit of Christmas and this year they have raised almost £2,000 for a local girl who has cerebral palsy to have an operation in America which will help her walk unaided.
Writing to the Local Democracy Reporting Service Phil Griffiths, the chief organiser of the lights in Claughton, explained how his village went from darkness at Christmas in 2016 to spectacular light just a year later.
He said it was on a dark, cold night in December 2016 that the locals looked out from their windows and glanced miserably at the "dank view" of darkness, where only naked lampposts, car headlights and traffic controls were observable.
But fundraising is Claughton's forte.
The village has always supported football and darts teams, and many people requiring assistance have benefited from the community's generosity.
Mr Griffiths wanted to raise money in a joyful way, so along with other volunteers he sold spot the ball and bonus ball tickets and arranged coastal walks to bring people together and get the donation boxes jangling.
Collection bottles were placed behind the bars of two local businesses, the Houlihans Variety Club and The Claughton Hotel.
Mr Griffiths was certain that without the support of these places not a bulb would have been lit.
With this effort, Claughton was able to get its lights up in 2017 and the decorations are getting better every year.
Last year, the village was able to get a bit more money together and add a 150 ft illuminated tree to their display.
But this year Claughton has what Mr Griffiths called the "pièce de résistance".
With help from local councillor George Davies, the display of lights is the most spectacular so far, a delight for Claughton's children.
Two massive trees and tonnes of lampposts, make for a "magnificent", in Mr Griffiths' opinion, display.
He added: "We all raise a glass to what’s been achieved so far, with a little help from our friends.
"To see people's smiles as they walk past by foot, car, bike or bus, is evidence that our lights are providing local people with a sense of connectivity by being part of a village that cares.
"It's a great pleasure and an honour to be part of this renaissance."
Chief organiser of the lights in Wallasey, Lesley Cubbin, said “the residents have been fantastic”.
Ms Cubbin of Wallasey Village People, co-ordinates the fundraising efforts along with two others, and said the focus this year has been expanding the presence of the lights.
In previous years, much of the village was not covered by the lights.
But far more money has been raised this year, allowing most of it to be draped in festive decorations.
Ms Cubbin said: “It went down to the wire. We didn’t think we could get enough money together, but we had donations ongoing and a larger donation from one business helped us get across the line.”
Ms Cubbin added that pubs and Wallasey’s local councillors, Ian Lewis, Lesley Rennie and Paul Hayes, were key factors in getting the group over the line.
Ms Cubbin told the LDRS how important these decorations are in making people feel proud of their local area and bringing them together.
Wirral Council were keen to emphasise that while they have not directly organised Christmas lights for many years, they do assist community groups.
David Armstrong, Wirral Council’s director for delivery services, said: “The council works with the Chamber of Commerce, community groups, volunteers and traders who work to create Wirral’s festive feel each year.
“Over time we’ve modified street lamps so decorations can be put up, setting up sockets for lights to be plugged in and sourced bases for community Christmas trees.
“Where Christmas decorations are plugged in to street lights, the council covers the cost which this year is set to be £8,000-10,000.”