It’s Chico time to switch on the town’s lights - VIDEO

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X FACTOR stars turned up the heat for more than 7,000 people who braved the cold in Rotherham for last night’s Christmas lights switch-on.

Cheeky former contestant Chico and two of this year’s hopefuls, John Wilding and Sarah Watson, helped flick the switch to trip the fantastic lights.

Rotherham Christmas Light Switch-On 2011 'The crowds  near the tree as the lights go on

Rotherham Christmas Light Switch-On 2011 'The crowds near the tree as the lights go on

“Tonight, it’s Rotherham time!” shouted Chico to a screaming crowd who were treated to a handful of songs and a flash of his washboard abs.

“It’s chilly out here tonight but South Yorkshire people are so warm I didn’t feel any of it out there,” he told The Star. “People here know how to party!”

The event proved a step back in time for Rotherham Mayoress Lisa Wright - 30 years ago she switched on the Rotherham lights as a little schoolgirl.

In 1981, aged just six, Lisa helped her grandmother perform the Christmas duty.

Her gran, Coun Joan Johnston, was Mayor of Rotherham and Lisa was called upon to help.

Last night she was back on stage in All Saints Square - this time with her husband, Rotherham Mayor Coun Shaun Wright.

And, to bring history full circle, the couple asked their six-year-old niece Amelia Johnston to help.

Lisa told The Star afterwards: “It was surprisingly emotional out there. We always come to the lights switch-on every year and being here to turn them on tonight, exactly 30 years after my grandmother and I did the same thing, was just lovely.

“I’m so proud to be part of a town like this that comes together - despite the cold - to celebrate and have fun at this time of year.”