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A new priest blesses the Norwegian tree.
Crunch time:The Mayor of Bergen turns on the lights.

To see the 2009 'lights on' report click here.

To see the 2008 'lights on' report click here.


The next day it was as if it never happened as there was absolutely no trace of the previous nights festivities.
The charity parade moves down Northumberland Street bringing the annual Pro Palestinian demonstration to a temporary halt for the second year running.
It was hearts in mouths time as the Mayor of Bergen finally applied downward pressure onto the light switch. In front of a crowd of hundreds and an army of camera crews and photographers the lights on the friendship tree burst on to a mixture of gasps from the crowd and sighs of relief from officials.

A large portion of the assembled crowd were poised to set off on a charity parade to the Quayside to visit the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

The parade was lead by a first class marching band which made there way through a crowded Northumberland Street on their way to the river, but before they could set off, the christmas tree ceremony had to be brought to a close with the traditional blessing of the tree.

The crowd were moved as the respective Mayor's stepped up to the purpose built platform, flanked by two officials and followed by the brass band who were rushing out with their instruments.

The Mayor of Newcastle said a few words then made way for the Mayor of Bergen who gave an extensive speech detailing the process of selecting and cutting the tree.

Two Open Council members make some enquiries while the Mayor addresses the crowd.
The Mayors and dignitaries parade outside to the Norwegian tree.
The Norwegian community were joined by the Mayor of Bergen for the traditional sing song.
Gunnar Bakke, the Mayor of Bergen responds with a counter speech.
Speech: Councillor Brenda Hindmarsh, the new Mayor of Newcastle addresses the crowd.
The comical priest welcomes the two Mayors and a string of vip's.
The Mayor of Bergen confers with members of the Norwegian community in Newcastle,
The two mayors and dignitaries descend the staircase to no music.
The exclusive civic ceremony was brought to a close with a rousing rendition of a traditional Norwegian christmas song by a local Norwegian woman who, in a break with tradition, was joined by the Mayor of Bergen. This was followed by one last prayer and a few more cracks from the comical priest who sent everyone away with smiles etched on faces.
Lights on: The Norwegian tree.

The Mayors and dignitaries were introduced by a lively priest who had the crowd bent double with laughter with a first class repertoire of jokes and anecdotes.

The formalities got underway with a speech by the Mayor of Newcastle followed by a counter speech by the Mayor of Bergen after which heads were bowed to hear the comical priest say the Lords Prayer.

The Newcastle Schools Brass Ensemble assembled on the second floor and improvised over a string of christmas carols to entertain the gathering while the Mayor of Newcastle got changed into costume.
As usual our reporter gained access to the exclusive gathering of councillors and local dignitaries who assembled to hear the two Mayors speak inside the Civic Centre. A program of carols, speeches, music and prayer was then rolled out for the members and guests to enjoy before going outside to stand next to the tree.
The brass band in action during rehearsal before.

The Open Council were out to see the Mayor of Bergen turn on the Christmas tree lights at the Civic Centre. Our reporter arrived early to watch the preparations and to attend the Christmas prayer service at the Civic Centre.

Just like last year the controversy about the quality of the tree was put to one side and everyone enjoyed the night as hundreds turned out.

Christmas Tree Lights On at the Civic Centre.