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Organisers say customers refunded after 'shambolic' Christmas drive-thru event in Limerick

A local councillor who attended the event with his wife and children said the show put on was “pathetic”.

Image: Shutterstock/Guschenkova

THE ORGANISERS OF a Christmas drive-thru event, who cancelled the event after they received a storm of criticism on social media, have said it has offered refunds to all of its customers.

Organisers of A Christmas Drive-Thru Limerick, which had held the event at Limerick Racecourse, said: “We tried our best to put on an event in a pandemic and it didn’t work.”

“Everyone has been refunded fully and the event has been shut down within 24hrs,” a spokesperson said.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Limerick Racecourse confirmed it was “not involved in the organising or running of the event”.

A spokesperson for the organisers claimed that “hurtful” and “damaging” comments had been posted online about actors who had played key roles in the socially-distanced event.

“Every post that goes up is causing a great deal of stress and anxiety to our actors and us and mentally it is very damaging, we are really trying our best to deal with the mess and keep everyone calm and relaxed,” they said.

“So, again please (do) not add to the hurtful post and online bullying. We would be forever grateful,” they added.

A statement from “Team Drive Thru” stated they had cancelled the event “due to the safety of our actors being compromised”.

Comments were posted on social media accounts alongside photographs of some of the young actors.

“We are now trying our best to get all the photos of our underage actors taking down,” the spokesperson replied.

The organisers confirmed in a separate statement via its Facebook page: “Hi all, We can now confirm that we have refunded EVERY ticket that was sold”.

These refunds would “take a couple of days to reach your accounts, however they have been processed from our side” the statement added.

Customers were also advised to “check your email if you are awaiting a refund”.

The organisers also alleged that, “hateful comments and photos” were posted “of underage actors and staff”.

“This is causing huge anxiety for them and is grossly unfair. We believe they should be removed from all social media channels as the actors did a fantastic job yesterday and it is unfair to put their faces to this event,” they said.

“We are obviously very apologetic that this happened. It was never our intention to cause any distress,” they added.

A number of parents who brought their children along to the event said they found “pop-up” gazebos, and little else.

Limerick Green Party Councillor Sean Hartigan tweeted: “My wife and children were at it yesterday & it was a pathetic, shambolic affair”.

One woman who attended the event, and writing on her Facebook page, described it as “a farce”.

She claimed one of the elves “had the kids say, Let It Snow 3 times, then fired sea salt over his head and waved us on our way”.

“The next elf pointed us towards Santa, who was a young fella about 17 with a felt beard hanging off his face, he told the kids they were on the good list and waved us on our way”.

Another guest claimed “Santa was no older than 18, with an eyebrow piercing and no belly”, and “there was not a light, decoration, or Xmas tree to be seen along the way”.

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Customers were charged €38 per car, “with a maximum of seven guests per car”, and promised a Christmas experience “with a little twist” that would be “bursting with festive cheer”.

Others described it as “an absolute joke” and “the most horrendous event ever”.

The event booking form had advised customers that “due to government guidelines, Santa will be unable to hand out presents to the visiting children”.

It went on: “However, he suggests bringing wrapped presents with you, hiding them in the boot of your car and seeing them magically appear after they see Santa…“Did I just hear an elf scurrying in the boot?”

It said customers would “drive past” gingerbread houses, Santa’s mailroom and sorting office “stopping at various points to enjoy scenes and actors along the way” before “most importantly, you will see Santa’s Livingroom where you will see the big man himself!”

The online booking form also advised customers, that due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, they could not leave their vehicles at any stage along the route.

“While there might be minimal set pieces as you drive from scene to scene, there will be no actors or staff approaching the cars while driving from one location to the next,” it explained.

“The safety of staff and guests is our top priority and we have designed the entire experience with the current health guidelines in mind. Performers will socially distance from each other at all times,” it added.

While the booking form stated that “all staff on site will wear a mask at all times”, photographs were posted online which appeared to show at least one of the actors talking to customers without a face mask.

About the author:

David Raleigh

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