RUDOLPH has been banned from bringing Santa to the launch of Christmas in Chester because of foot and mouth restrictions imposed by the Government.
So Forum shopping centre boss Lawrence Allen has called on the help of a magical movie motor car to ferry Father Christmas to the yuletide bash on Thursday, November 15.
The centre manager had booked a visit by Santa's reindeer from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Britain's only herd, based in Scotland.
Then just two weeks ago he received a letter informing him that foot and mouth restrictions imposed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made a visit to Chester impossible.
'We were stunned,' said Lawrence from his office at the Northgate Street shopping centre. 'Santa was grounded by these restrictions yet we had everything arranged for his big arrival.
'Suddenly we were faced with the task of having to find an alternative means of transport to bring him into The Forum.'
Urgent calls were made to the owners of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the car that starred in the 1968 fantasy film featuring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes and Lionel Jeffries, to plead for help in getting Santa to the Forum on time.
'Luckily we were able to book Chitty to lead a procession through city centre streets to the entrance to The Forum,' said Mr Allen.
'At 6.30pm on Thursday, November 15, Chitty will leave the Town Hall carrying Santa at the head of a colourful procession that will make its way along St Werburgh Street, Foregate and Northgate.'
The story of the flying car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by James Bond author Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl wrote the film's screenplay.
Still a popular tale 33 years after the film's first release, Chitty is to get a new lease of life next year in a £6m stage production at the London Palladium.
'I'm sure Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be appreciated by the children here in Chester,' said Mr Allen. 'After all he has saved the day and will get Santa safely into his grotto.'