PARENTS and children were left angry and disappointed after a Christmas Toy Show, which was due to benefit the Autism Ireland charity, was cancelled with just hours to spare.
The event, at Patrick Punch’s Hotel on the outskirts of the city, was due to take place on Saturday and Sunday, and was billed as a “fun-packed day for all the family” with toys on display, face painting, and performances from local groups.
Santa Claus was also due to be present at the event to see children, and hear what they wanted for Christmas.
After the event on Saturday was cancelled, organisers then pulled the plug on the event at 11am on Sunday morning due to low ticket sales.
Despite this, people began to arrive at Punch’s Hotel - which had no involvement in organising the show - and were left angry at a lack of information.
Although the hotel was not involved in the running of the event, it agreed to sell tickets - at €10 each - with reception staff forced to issue refunds to angry customers.
Organiser Greg Ryan insisted that everyone who bought tickets to the show had also been refunded.
When contacted by the Limerick Leader, Mr Ryan said less than 30 tickets had been sold for the event, adding: “We have a full right to cancel the event 30 minutes prior to it. It states this on the tickets. Obviously, we are sorry for the show being cancelled. But you cannot run an event with no tickets being sold. We had no other choice but to cancel it.”
The event’s Facebook page was taken down after a deluge of complaints were made.
Writing on the Facebook page before it was removed, one lady wrote: “We brought two kids to the ‘show’ only to upset them by tellin them we had to go because there was no show on! I feel bad for Punch’s for havin to hand out refunds to everyone because of the organiser.”
Another added: “It’s ridiculous that you cancelled it at the very last minute. You weren’t even ready with the hall or anything. And the staff at reception didn’t even know what was going on.”
“I am very disappointed as I had a child here all set to perform,” another user wrote.
A hotel source said: “It was meant to happen between 2pm and 5pm (on Sunday), and no organiser turned up to set up the room or anything like that. It was bad form, and a poor showing. People were sitting downstairs waiting for it to start, and nothing was happening.”
The organisers of the event said that toys from the show would be donated to the Children’s Ark Unit at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, which provides toys for children confined to hospital.
But the Children’s Ark Unit moved quickly to distance themselves from the event, with a spokesman saying: “We have no association with this project.”
Niall Murphy, fundraising co-ordinator with the charity Irish Autism Action said: “It is an unfortunate event. In fairness to Greg, he went with the best of intentions to raise funds for our charity, and raise awareness which is fantastic. We are greatly indebted to people like this.”
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