The Black Santa sit-out in front of St Anne’s Cathedral which began on December 16 has continued despite the bitterly cold conditions.
The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Houston McKelvey, said: “We have ensured that the canons at the barrel have been brought inside every half hour tto be thawed out before re-freezing!
“Folk have come to donate despite the weather but not as many as in other years. So far we have received over £130,000 up to Monday 20.”
The Dean wais he and his team of Black Santas will continue to man the barrel in front of the Cathedral until Christmas Eve. “After that the barrel will be available in the cathedral until the end of January. We don’t want anyone to be taking undue risks to come and see us in these conditions,” he said.
Meanwhile, due to the weather, the time of the Eve of Christmas Eucharist at the Cathedral has been brought forward by one hour, and will now begin at 10pm.
Dean McKelvey said the decision was taken following consultation with churchwardens and the cathedral organist. “Our choir members and quite a number of worshippers take part in the service of Nine lessons and Carols at 8pm and normally come back for 11pm. In the current conditions, we felt it would be better to have the service earlier.
“Despite the weather, we had a fantastic congregation for Sunday’s “Carols for the City” – some present had come from Coleraine, Bangor and Downpatrick. And there was me thinking the Malone Road was dodgy enough to drive along!
“They all said that the journey was well worth it for the service.”