So Sandwich Christmas Lights were successfully turned on, and the parade had, amongst the usual stuff, 4 marching bands, an ambulance, a fire engine and dogs pulling carts. Plus there were fireworks, which I missed (assuming hearing all the bangs and seeing green and red flashes reflected off every building in sight is missing them).
We didn't seem to have a countdown. As my Dad was either at the top or the bottom of the ladder to the master switch I'll have to ask him about that. The button that the official turner-on uses - not connected to anything. You'd have to run wires 100m and then disconnect them as soon as everyone has gone. Nope, all done by men in florescent jackets on ladders around the corner.
The Christmas Lights can be seen from now until Twelth Night, assuming someone remembers to turn them off on time.