Silence of parade banished

Christmas Parade needs crowds to boost noise

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 23/11/2012

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Noise, the ingredient missing from Palmerston North's first non-motorised Christmas Parade in The Square, will be amped up this year when electric and people-powered floats take to the street on December 1.

Organiser Carol Kelly said as people got used to the truck-free parade, the potential for creating an innovative event that had broken with tradition was being realised.

"The two biggest criticisms we had last year were about lack of noise, and visibility."

This year the silenced motors will be replaced by the sound of two pipe bands, the IPC drum team, greater use of portable amplifiers, and a couple of surprises.

The parade's route around and through The Square will be taped off to encourage people to keep back so everyone has a good view.

Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford, in charge of the contract for the city council's core community events, said the first year of doing something new was always difficult.

But he said the new vision of a non-motorised Christmas Parade fitted well with the council's goals to build a vibrant, caring, sustainable and innovative community.

The change was also in line with the regional goal of being the best place to raise a family.

"We thought having a sustainable parade was going to be much more creative, and it worked.

"It makes it much easier for school and community groups who had not entered in the past because of the difficulty of finding a truck and dealing with health and safety issues.

"People have got the hang of it now, and it will grow into something amazing."

Ten days out from the parade Ms Kelly had about 30 entries, and was expecting a boost in the last week of preparations.

Many groups had picked up the sustainability theme and were using recycled materials to build their showpieces, such as a giant Christmas pudding and a Christmas tree with human decorations.

Mr Bickford said organisers hoped people who wanted to see a traditional Santa parade would go to Feilding the following weekend.

He said the later start to the parade gave retailers a better chance to attract Christmas shoppers during the day, with the extent of street closures kept to a minimum.

The parade begins at the Square Edge corner at 4pm on Saturday, makes its way along Church St, along the east side of The Square, into Broadway and through the car park, missing the library corner.

The last free buses home leave at 5.30pm.

If the parade is rained off, it will be held on Sunday.

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- Manawatu Standard

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