Santa’s taking it to streets

    Southland Christmas Parade Charitable Trust parade manager Alice Pottinger, with the help of her trusty minion, are excited about the preparations they are making to take Southland's 2021 Christmas Parade on tour to the people for the first time on November 27.

    SANTA is going to be firmly buckled up in his convertible when the Southland Santa Parade goes on tour for the first time this year.

    The parade was coming to the people rather than the people coming to the parade, Southland Christmas Parade Charitable Trust parade manager Alice Pottinger said.

    Despite the changes, she believed children would still be happy to see the parade going ahead.

    “We’ll still have the floats, but the way we are running it has changed for this year.

    “So we are going to take the parade on tour.”

    While it would be different, it would still be fun, she said.

    Covid-19 Alert Level 2 restrictions meant the Southland Christmas Parade Charitable Trust had to rethink the parade’s traditional city centre location and implement a new format to ensure the November event could still happen.

    Two regular events to feature on Invercargill’s calendar for many consecutive years, the 2022 Burt Munro Challenge and Southern Crafter’s Market, were cancelled this month because of the uncertainty Covid-19 restrictions presented.

    The restrictions, which did not allow for large crowds congregating, meant the restrictive logistics would be too challenging to manage, she said.

    The tour format was not a difficult decision for the trust to make.

    “Our main thing was we had to do something for the people of Southland and we would make it work.”

    Almost everything about the parade’s format has changed – aprt from the date, which was traditionally the last Saturday in November, Mrs Pottinger said.

    Despite the changes, she expected the parade to still have a positive response from the public.

    “I think people will be happy we are still doing something rather than nothing because it’s all about the kids. The kids love seeing the floats anyway.

    “They can still dress up and come along.”

    The parade will start at 11am at the corner of Bainfield and North Rds and will take a 20km route through the suburbs’ main routes to finish in McQuarrie St.

    The trust planned to publish the route and include the approximate times the parade would be passing through the suburbs.

    She expected the convoy of about 30-40 floats would travel at a relaxed pace and would take much longer to complete the 20km journey.

    Past parades had walking groups supporting the parade, however, the changes meant their involvement wasn’t practical.

    “We hope the vehicles on the road will be forgiving of us as we go around because we will be sharing the roads with vehicles.”

    While there would not be any people actually sitting on the floats, families would be able to enjoy the float display afterwards at Queen’s Park from 1pm-5pm.

    It was always a challenge to organise the parade, however, the positive response from authorities had helped.

    “The challenge is less when you get a good response and support.”

    There were still opportunities for volunteers if anyone wanted to help.

    “There were still four street [corners] where we need some support. We are just working through all those logistics at the moment.”

    More parade details, as they are finalised, would be released to the public on the parade’s Facebook page.

    “I think it’s going to be a good day. I know it’s going to be different for people… I’m sure they’ll respond well to it and make the most of the opportunity,” Mrs Pottinger said.