Santa takes sleigh to Te Anau streets

Santa and his number one helper Harry Thomas, 8, who decorated Santa's seat for the grotto which was visited by the big man at Te Anau on Saturday. Photo: Supplied

TE ANAU’S Covid-19-adjusted Santa Parade still brought all the fun and festivity of the Christmas season to the town on Saturday night.

It was a parade on tour with Santa and his team, plus members of the Fiordland Vintage Machinery Club, Te Anau Volunteer Fire Brigade, mini drivers and police who escorted the parade through 20 streets in Te Anau – with many people braving the cool wind to experience Santa from right outside their doorstep.

“Being in the street tour was a bit like a treasure hunt, looking out for waves and smiling faces on the street, front lawns and popping out windows. It was great fun and seemed to be appreciated,” organiser Anna Thomas said.

Santa’s Little Helpers Ink. announced its new format to replace the Te Anau Santa Parade and Fun in the Park in November.

This year Santa’s grotto was held at the Fiordland Community Events Centre, alongside Te Anau Community Market’s Christmas market.

Children could follow the grotto and wave to Santa in his sleigh and could post their letters to Santa in the letterbox.

“We had a great day… with many families coming to see Santa in his grotto at the event centre,” Ms Thomas said.

“Lots of people seemed to come primarily for a photo with Santa which was great. We had lots of comments from people loving the grotto and one said it was better than a parade.”

There were decorations from Mararoa School, Just 4 Kids Te Anau and the ones the Santa’s Little Helpers team put together.

A bird seed Christmas tree from the Department of Conservation Te Anau Bird Sanctuary was also used. The tree was now at the bird park and the kaka and kakariki had also had birdseed Christmas trees installed, she said.

“We moved some of the decorations from the grotto into the old H&J Smith building window so people could enjoy the rest of the season, as not everybody could make it on the day,” she said.