Thursday, June 13, 2024

Santa Parade draws the crowds

Photos: Bo Burns

The 70th Howick Santa Parade was a remarkable success, drawing unprecedented crowds including Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and deputy leader of the house MP Simeon Brown to the Howick main street.

This year’s parade, a significant milestone, was met with excitement and bustling activity. The Fencible and War Memorial markets were a hit, offering a range of delicious food and unique crafts, appealing to a diverse audience.

The main stage was a hub of entertainment, featuring beloved Disney characters, captivating performances from the national HIWA kapa haka group, an enthralling cultural dragon show and finishing up with the much-loved magic show by Alan Watson.

Fencible Park added to the festivities with local groups performing and activities like the Barfoot & Thompson Chill zone and kids play area. The Give it a Go area was another highlight, where sports clubs engaged kids in various sports and activities, complemented by sponsor giveaways from Andrew Simms and the Hot Rod show, which was particularly popular among young attendees. Not to forget the huge interest in Howick Classic and Vintage Car Club show on Uxbridge Road.

The parade itself, with more than 75 floats, lasted for just over an impressive hour, bringing joy and smiles to many faces. There were more than 70 entertainers/characters in the parade which is a huge highlight for the children and big kids alike.

“The event’s success is a testament to the hard work of volunteers,” said organiser Bo Burns.

“Without them this event wouldn’t have been possible. The parade, envisioned and executed by community members, reflects a strong communal spirit.

“We believe this event should always be run, by the community, for the community.”

If anyone ventured around the back where the action was happening with the floats, you would have been treated to an energetic surprise.

“It was like its own carnival had come to life, the sound of Christmas community happiness, people singing, bands playing loudly, children smiling, overall, the community coming together as one to celebrate all areas of east Auckland, just so heart-warming to see,” said Burns.

“The Howick Children’s Charitable Trust is very grateful to all sponsors but most importantly Barfoot & Thompson Howick, Andrew Simms and the Howick Local Board, and special mention to the NZCT trust which was granted through the Barrell Inn.

“Without these funds, the community event and parade could not continue.”

Above all, the highlight for many were of course, the man of the hour, Santa.

The winners, independently judged by Mike Bongiovanni (GM for Pakuranga United Rugby Club) , Paul Brobble (director of Uxbridge) and Pip Burns (Trustee) were:

  • 3rd Place – All Star Fame Cheerleading
  • 2nd Place – Farm Cove Scouts Group
  • 1st Place – Owairoa Primary School
  • Peoples Choice – Four Trees
  • Volunteer of the Year – Claire Atkinson.

The organisers, including event organiser Bo Burns and the trustees & committee, expressed their gratitude to all participants who made the day such a success – from the float entries, the array of entertainers, local businesses who support financially or on the day, the huge amount of volunteers and to all the service groups such as the St John, Fire Brigade, police who dedicate their day to ensure it runs smoothly.

“We extend a warm invitation for anyone in the community that would like to get involved, whether it be on the committee or simply a volunteer on the day,” said Burn.

“Mark your calendars for the next parade on Sunday, December 8, 2024. We wish everyone a merry Christmas and a relaxing summer holiday.”

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