Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas these days without tear-jerker TV adverts, Black Friday sales and houses strewn with flashing lights.
But back in the 1970s and 80s, the festive season only really got under way after Santa paid his first visit to the town – courtesy of the Jopling’s Parade.
Wearsiders in their thousands would line the streets to welcome Father Christmas, who was usually accompanied by assorted stars of stage, screen and TV.
In one memorable year Doctor Who himself, in the form of Tom Baker, played the role of Santa’s helper, waving at crowds from a open-top Land Rover.
But in this series of photos from 1982, it was the turn of two stars from TV’s It Ain’t Half Hot Mum to help welcome Santa to Sunderland.
“Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies were performing in a stage version of the show in Sunderland at the time,” said photographic archivist Susan Swinney.
“The show smashed 20-year box office records, and the pair’s appearance in the parade brought people out in their droves.”
Santa, as the VIP star of the Jopling’s procession, paraded through the town in a 1939 Austin Goodwood, kindly provided by Newton Hall Motor Museum.
But, following close behind him, were the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum actors, who were provided with a 1960 white Rolls-Royce Corniche as their ride for the night.
“Sunderland always became a Winter Wonderland with the arrival of the Jopling’s Santa, and the parade really helped add to the magic,” said Susan.
“But, although the Joplings Santa was legendary, there was always an on-going rivalry with the Mr Claus who welcomed kids to the Liverpool House store!
“There is no argument, however, over the popularity of the Empire’s panto in 1982 – as it starred Melvyn and Windsor and was a sell-out success.”