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Pranksters remove giant Santa hat from Angel of the North sculpture

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Pranksters have climbed up the Angel of the North to remove the Father Christmas hat which they had placed on the sculpture on Christmas Eve.

One member of the group, dressed as fictional book and film character the Grinch in a Santa costume, was pictured pulling the giant headwear down, with the help of a few others wearing similar festive outfits.

They had planned to leave the hat in place until the end of the weekend to allow more people to see it.

But they decided to remove it early as strengthening winds could have made it a hazard.

A person dressed as Dr Seuss character the Grinch, removes a Santa hat on the 20 metres tall steel sculpture 'Angel of the North', outside Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
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One person was dressed as Dr Seuss character the Grinch

They said: “We never in a million years expected it to hit the headlines the way it did.

“Because it’s such good publicity, we thought we’d give the public something else to laugh and smile about before the end of the festive season and came up with the Grinch and a few Santas to take it down.”

One member said he spent £90 on fabric to create the hat, sewing it all together with the help of his girlfriend and his grandmother’s sewing machine.

A person removes a Santa hat on the 20 metres tall steel sculpture 'Angel of the North', outside Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
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‘The Grinch’ was photographed scaling the sculpture

Onlookers were delighted when the group, which has asked to remain anonymous, placed it on top of the famous 65ft (20m) high Anthony Gormley artwork.

And Gateshead Council welcomed the Christmas Eve prank, saying there had been a “staggering” public response after the pictures received national coverage.

The stunt was the group’s seventh attempt at placing the hat on the sculpture, with previous efforts hit by problems including bad weather and a broken-down car.

A Santa hat on the 20 metres tall steel sculpture 'Angel of the North', outside Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
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Onlookers were delighted when the group placed the hat on top of the famous artwork

In the first bid, they managed to scale the structure but then found out the hat was too small to fit.

The stunt required meticulous planning, with 10 people in five vans needed to get the hat up using ropes and a fishing line.

It is not the first time the 200-tonne structure has been dressed up since it was installed 20 years ago.

Newcastle United fans placed a club shirt with Alan Shearer’s name on it in 1998.

And in 2015, supermarket Morrisons was forced to apologise after beaming a bread advert on to its wings.

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