Reindeer really riding on air

16:00, Dec 03 2012
Papatoetoe Santa Parade
BIG KID: Lonny Gemmell and his Christmas troupe are ready for tomorrow night’s Santa Parade.

When it comes to explaining the reindeer in his workshop Lonny Gemmell just shrugs his shoulders.

"I'm a big kid."

In the spirit of Christmas, the fridge builder has made no less than 28 reindeer of varying sizes for tomorrow night's Papatoetoe Santa Parade.

And it's all come out of his own pocket.

"I bought some plans on how to make wooden reindeer but wood's too expensive so I use hi-density polystyrene."

With a surplus of polystyrene in his Roscommon Rd workshop, the "jack of all trades" set about making the reindeer which made their debut at last year's parade.


Now Mr Gemmell's added a few smaller reindeer to his herd and he's hoping to finish a sleigh for them, by tomorrow night.

"I'm just refining them this year so that they can rock together. I've made them so I can put air rams in them to make them jump up and down."

The famous fawns have their own personalised jackets, each with their name embroidered on it.

"Last year they were asking which one is Rudolph so I'll have to find a red nose to signal him out this year."

A Canadian by birth, Mr Gemmell says he "misses the scenery but not the cold part" of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas.

"We always had the snow and we'd get the department store catalogues so I've always been a big fan of Christmas."

A BIG YEAR: Father Christmas might wear red but for tomorrow night's Papatoetoe Santa Parade the streets will be decked out in gold and purple in celebration of the area's 150th anniversary.

Balloons, flags and T-shirts emblazoned in the celebration colours will welcome more than 40 floats, bands and various ethnic, community and church groups as they proceed along the parade route. Parade organiser and school teacher Angela Cave is expecting between 20,000-30,000 people to attend what is Auckland's second largest Santa Parade.

"It's great fun putting it together each year because everyone's so enthusiastic about it," she says.

As well as Mr Gemmell's reindeer, kids will be looking forward to the Dora the Explorer float which will be making its Southside debut. The parade starts at 7pm at School Corner. It will proceed along Great South Rd, then turn left at Kolmar Rd and left again at Wentworth Ave.

Manukau Courier