Touring Santa parade a hit

The Timu and McElhinney families lined up on North Rd, Invercargill, to get the best view at the start of the Southland Santa Parade on Saturday.

INVERCARGILL experienced its first Santa Parade Tour on Saturday.

Town crier Lynley McKerrow headed the inaugural on-tour parade with her usual enthusiasm to set the scene for all who followed, with Santa sedately cruising past in his black Ford T-Bird at the end of the parade.

Southland Christmas Parade Charitable Trust parade manager Alice Pottinger said she had received positive feedback from the drivers about the great turnout from people in the city.

“They couldn’t believe the amount of people that were on the streets.

“Even people who did not want to come out of their houses were standing at the windows watching it go by. It was a great vibe.”

Float numbers were down on previous years with 32 touring.

In past years, community group entries featured people from their organisations. But they were unable to take part in the revised format.

Parades held within the Invercargill CBD were supported by a flurry of walking groups including bands, street performers and community groups. However, the 20km parade route made it impractical for walking groups to join in.

Covid-19 restrictions required the parade trust to rethink its usual format for the parade to ensure it would happen this year. The restrictions did not allow for the large and compacted crowds the parade normally attracted.

Other cities around the nation, such as Dunedin and Christchurch, had opted to cancel their parades while Invercargill had chosen to soldier on with its carefully planned revised format.

The colourful tour started at the corner of Bainfield and North Rds and wound a 20km path
south through the city’s suburbs, followed by a static display at Queens Park.

Queens Park held more of the usual flair associated with the event, with pipe bands
entertaining the constant stream of visitors to the open space surrounding the band rotunda.

‘‘We had a steady flow of people coming through the park all day. The conditions were perfect for it. It was just lovely,’’ Mrs Pottinger said.

After a rainy couple of days before, the weather co-operated on the day to make it pleasant for all who attended.

‘‘The weather was just great. You’ve just got to thank that weatherman, whoever does the weather for us, he does it very well for the past few years. We are so grateful.’’

The presence of some heavy vehicles and traffic intermingling with the parade on North Rd briefly blocked views of the parade for people standing on the west side of the road.

‘‘We knew there would be some tough spots.’’

Overall, the road users had been patient with the convoy, she said.

‘‘We are fortunate we live in the town we live in. Everyone is pretty kind and nice.’’

Mrs Pottinger said she was incredibly grateful to all the volunteers who had stepped up from the community to help marshall street corners and all the other small details which made the day go according to plan.

‘‘You can’t do this without volunteers. They definitely make it for us.’’ she said.

The Southland Santa Parade committee especially wanted to thank the public for all their
support and wished them a very merry Christmas.