Garden centre invites customers to go through Christmas tree machine
Forget Santa’s grottos and Christmas markets as a Norwich garden centre has created the ultimate festive experience with the chance to go through the tree netting machine.
Customers can get wrapped up for Christmas at the Thorpe Plant Centre in Plumstead Road East, on the edge of Norwich, and owner Paul Oxborrow decided to launch it for fun last year after requests from his staff and regular customers.
He posted his unique idea on Facebook and it had a huge reaction, which included coverage on American TV and radio stations and it also got a mention on BBC's The One Show.
The festive attraction is back by popular demand for 2019 and raises money for the Teenage Cancer Trust in East Anglia, with thrill-seekers encouraged to make a minimum £1 donation to 'get netted'.
The machine is a simple funnel contraption with a reel of netting and as you push a Christmas tree, or person, through they become encased in it.
Mr Oxborrow said: "Last year the lads at work asked me if they could do it for a laugh and then I decided to offer it to customers with a charity pot and it ended up going viral.
"Once we put it on Facebook it snowballed and there was even a YouTube video in America with eight million views.
"I don't know whether it will be quite as big as last year as a lot of people have already done it, but I reckon we will get new people coming.
"It is good fun at a time of year people are looking for a laugh and last year we did all ages, from little toddlers helped through to an old boy in his eighties - it is a real cross section of people."
Asked about the safety of the machine, Mr Oxborrow said: "It is manual and we make it as safe as we possibly can with a mattress at the end and we instruct people not to launch through and it is supervised - last year we didn't have any injuries."
Thorpe Plant Centre has extended opening hours until Monday, December 23 and will be open from 8.30am to 6pm and potted trees start at £16.
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