A FESTIVE showstopper 45ft high is putting a smile on faces of shoppers in Harrogate.
Four of the lofty stone sculptures which look down from the Victoria Shopping Centre have been given a bright new look with woolly hats and scarves to keep out winter chills.
The statues were highly controversial when the shopping centre was first built, with residents flooding the Harrogate Advertiser letters page protesting they were ugly and out of keeping with the town.
They even won brief notoriety when American writer Bill Bryson gave them a side-swipe from the pages of his popular book Notes from a Small Island.
The author wrote: "For reasons I couldn't begin to guess at, a balustrade along the roofline has been adorned with life-size statues of ordinary men, women and children.
"Goodness knows what this is meant to suggest – I suppose that this is some sort of Hall of the People – but the effect is that it looks as if two dozen citizens of various ages are about to commit mass suicide."
David Horth, manager at the centre which is home to more than 30 outlets, believes the statues have "settled down now" and have become an accepted part of Harrogate.
He explained why they decided to dress them up with winter warmers: "We have just had some contractors up there giving the statues a wash and brush up.
"Someone said it must be perishing on that parapet for those poor people and it was suggested we should help them to keep out the cold up there."
The hats and scarves came from the centre's Hats on Top store, courtesy of boss Kristi Hilton.
Mr Horth added: “Everyone who looks up at them starts to smile straight away. Everyone is loving it.”
He said the scarves and hats will come down at the same time as the Christmas decorations, but the statues could be modelling new garments soon.
“The World Cup is coming up so we may be able to dress them in football scarves and hats. It’s opened up more opportunities for us.”