The annual Christmas sit-out at St Anne’s Cathedral has raised in the region of £200,000 – a magnificent sum says Black Santa himself, the Very Rev Dr Houston McKelvey.
The sit-out, Dean McKelvey’s last as he intends to retire this year, began on Thursday December 16 and despite sub-zero temperatures the team of Black Santas continued their fund-raising vigil until Christmas Eve.
The Dean said: “The number of people in the Cathedral Quarter was lower this year due to the severe weather conditions.
“Many of the schools which support the sit-out were closed. The elderly are a significant group of supporters, and we preferred that they waited until the snow and ice melted rather than risk being injured.”
Because many people were unable to get to the Cathedral during the sit-out itself, Black Santa’s barrel will be available in the Cathedral until the end of January.
The Dean said the total raised to date was around £200,000. “This is a magnificent amount given the weather. I studied in Chicago and have seen waves frozen on Lake Michigan, and the minus 13.5 degree temperatures outside the Cathedral reminded me of my time there,” he said.
“It was amazing that people still came to donate. I often had my heart in my mouth seeing people trying to make their way on the ice across Writers’ Square to make a donation.”
The Dean also expressed appreciation to the anonymous Belfast store owner who brought two pairs of thermal socks for the Black Santa!