UPDATE: Christmas lights snub for Wizard Man
Campaigners are demanding a public apology after the Wizard Man of Sutton was prevented from turning on the Christmas lights in the town centre.
Sutton Council confirmed on Tuesday that Conrad Pugsley, 58, would be “cheerfully welcomed” on to stage by organisers Asda.
But thousands of residents were left disappointed last night as the dragon master watched from the sidelines while a costumed impostor stole the limelight.
This afternoon Mr Pugsley said Sutton police had initially intervened because of threats from animal rights protesters.
He said: "I feel the organisers have let the people of Sutton down.
"This is not what they wanted and the false wizard just gave a silly impression of what people think wizards should look like.
"He was wearing completely the wrong clothes, when I have a hooded robe and skull cap."
Mr Pugsley said he had been instructed to take home his pets at 4pm, before being ignored on his return two hours later.
He added: "I was waiting in the wings while the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character was on stage but the signal to go on never came.
"I would only impose myself on stage if I thought people were in danger.
"I was going to give the ceremony a special blessing to thank everyone for helping to find my cat Zagan.
Members of the social networking site Facebook are now seeking a full explanation for the humiliating vanishing act.
They particularly want to know why a “fake Wizard Man” was invited to join SpongeBob SquarePants, the Nickelodeon character, for the switch-on ceremony.
A campaign spokesman said: “The people of Sutton, Conrad Pugsley, the members of the Wizard Man campaign group and all visitors to the Sutton lights switch-on were fooled into believing Conrad was going to be involved in the ceremony.
“Wizard man was even risk-assessed by the council and police and deemed okay.
"We are outraged that the lovely Conrad Pugsley could be humiliated in front of many hundreds of people, and that some made wasted trips of many miles.”
Sutton police said it had been agreed beforehand that the pagan chief priest could appear without his pets.
A spokesman added: "Police were concerned that his animals could be frightened by the loud noise and music on the stage.
"At no time did Sutton police stop ‘Wizard Man’ taking to the stage."
The local authority said an estimated 8,000 residents, shoppers and children enjoyed festive entertainment at three stages along the high street. No incidents were reported to police.
- Anyone who knows the stand-in wizard, is asked to call the news desk on 020 8330 9544.