Four free Christmas Shows will be hosted over two days for senior citizens at The Braid by the Mayor for the first time in a bid to cover the demand for seats.
Last November, with 12,000 residents eligible to attend the annual event and only 800 seats available for two performances, tickets were quickly snapped up, leaving literally hundreds of elderly people disappointed.
A total of 600 pensioners, in fact, had to be put on a waiting list for the Mayor’s Senior Citizens’ Christmas Concert which eventually saw them offered an alternative in the form of a Cabaret Show held in the New Year.
A Ballymena Council committee was told last week that this time round, the Mayoral event will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 18 and 19, with two shows per day - a 2pm matinee and an evening show at 7pm.
This, councillors heard, will offer seats to 1600 senior citizens at a budgeted cost of £10,800.
Three hundred seats will be available at each show for local groups, 40 seats for councillors, and 60 seats for senior citizens who are not involved in local groups.
It was also pointed out that the matinee show on the Tuesday will be staged in partnership with Mid & East Antrim Age Well Partnership, with tickets and transport to The Braid being offered to more vulnerable and isolated older people in the borough, who may not have previously taken up the opportunity.
Tickets are now on offer and can be collected from The Braid Box Office. Those who do so can look forward to “Reminiscing with Gay McIntyre”, one of Ireland’s most celebrated jazz musicians, a five-piece live band and soloist Suzanne Savage, who together will bring a celebration of music and tales of bygone days to the stage.
It was pointed out to the committee by Council officer Bernie Candlish, in response to a query by Cllr James McClean, that tickets, as in the past, are distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Mayor, Audrey Wales said: “Hopefully everybody will respect we are giving out tickets and trying to give everybody a chance.”