Norm's the pulse of Santa parade

21:25, Nov 21 2012
GOOD WILL: Norm Ryan, 61, has been parade marshal for the Farmers Santa Parade for 24 years.

Norm Ryan, 61, lives in Glen Eden with wife Susan. He talks Monica Tischler through a typical day for this Sunday's annual Farmers Santa Parade on Queen St he's been involved with it for 24 years.

I set the alarm for 6am and get to Aotea Centre around 7.30am.

I became involved in about 1988 and I've been doing it for 24-odd years now.

This is the 79th year the parade's been running.

Before I was involved in the parade, I used to go along with my girlfriend at the time and watch it.

I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd be involved in it.


My role as parade marshal is to make sure the pace of the parade is kept even so we don't create huge gaps.

I communicate with the different teams of other volunteers to slow the participants down or speed them up.

It's a huge organisation. There are many people who volunteer.

I became involved in the parade after working as area manager for Farmers and with the event's organiser Pam Glaser.

I've worked in retail my whole life and now I'm a store manager for K Mart in Henderson.

The first floats arrive at 10am and we line them up accordingly.

Then there's a bit of a lull before the storm and everyone's there, waiting to go.

Anyone can participate in the parade.

There are a lot of dance groups and gymnastics clubs that get involved.

There are about 165 pieces in the parade and it takes two hours to pass by.

It's usually led by the police and a marching band. I always walk with them.

Many of the changes I've seen throughout the years go unnoticed but there are different floats that come along every year.

We've cancelled once and it was a tough decision but we had a blustery day. I've walked the parade in the rain, but if the weather's really bad, too much damage can be done to the floats.

I have three children and two grandchildren, all have been involved in the parade at some stage.

I usually see my grandchildren on the side and give them a wave or stop and say hello.

I get a big kick when I see the smile on the children's faces and their reaction to the floats. I do it for the kids.

I'll be there as long as I've got my health and my fitness, I can't see myself stopping just yet.

I feel like I'm giving a bit back to the community and that the parade's my contribution.

The parade is on November 25 at 2pm. It begins on the corner of Cook St and Mayoral Dr and end at Albert and Wellesley St.

Western Leader