THE last thing little Louie Husband expected when he woke up on Monday morning was to meet Father Christmas.

But that's exactly what happened when he and his family went to see the Go North East Santa bus pass near their Chester Moor home.

Santa spotted the three-year-old waving at the roadside and stopped to invite Louie onboard - making it a Christmas he will never forget.

Read more: Incredible moment hundreds line streets for Santa bus in County Durham village

Ms Short, along with partner Gary Husband, four-month-old daughter, Sophie and toddler, Louie, had been waiting on Waldridge Road on Monday evening when the bus unexpectedly pulled up.

The Northern Echo: The bus in Chester Moor Picture: CLAIRE SHORTThe bus in Chester Moor Picture: CLAIRE SHORT

Explaining their luck after finding a secluded spot away from the busy crowds, Ms Short said: "We were the only family there - it was literally the right place at the right time.

"We'd seen it pull over and then we ran across the road, they were waving to us and said 'we'll come down' and they made a fuss of him."

Drawing in huge crowds, the specially-decorated double-decker has been on its North East tour since last Wednesday.

It has not been stopping, but has been driving slow enough to allow Santa and his elves wave at onlookers as they pass.

The Northern Echo: Picture: CLAIRE SHORTPicture: CLAIRE SHORT

Offering Louie the rare chance to get onboard and see for himself the decorations after taking a five minute break, Ms Short said he had been left in awe as he "still believed in Santa."

She said: "With Covid, Christmas isn't very traditional anymore but the elves were there and they were asking him what he wanted for Christmas.

"Louie was just so shocked, he does believe in Santa and I think he just felt very lucky. He was just in left in awe of it all.

"When we got off, they stood and waved and he was talking about it all night saying how lucky he was.

"His grandma had seen the bus with his cousin, but Louie thought he was great because he got to go on it and she didn't."

The Northern Echo: Hundreds lined the streets to see it pass by Ouston Picture: MARTIJN GILBERTHundreds lined the streets to see it pass by Ouston Picture: MARTIJN GILBERT

Earlier this week, hundreds lined the streets of Ouston, near Chester-le-Street, as the Santa bus made its way through the village.

Pictures showed how hordes of excited onlookers turned out to catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves wave from the top of the bus.

Last night, the bus was in Sunderland and South Tyneside visiting areas including Boldon, Hebburn, Jarrow and Wrekenton.

On Thursday, the Santa bus will make its final tour, again visiting Chester-le-Street, before moving on to Pelton, Consett, Stanley and Durham.

'We were blown away by how popular the Santa bus was'

Ahead of this year's Santa bus starting, Stephen King, Commercial Director at Go North East said: “We’re delighted to be spreading some festive cheer again this year.

“We were blown away by how popular the Santa bus open-top tour was last year, and we can’t wait to get started again, seeing all those smiling faces as we pass through the region’s villages, towns and cities.”

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