Parade still a work in progress

People-powered spectacle has way to go

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 03/12/2012
Christmas parade
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
FLYING HIGH: The Zero Gravity Cheerleading team members ensure they have the elevation to be seen above the front row of the crowd of thousands watching Palmerston North's truckless Christmas parade. 

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It was better than last year, but Palmerston North's second people-powered Christmas parade still has a way to go to overcome nostalgia for the rumbling, belching trucks and elevated floats of days gone by.

Organiser Carol Kelly said the 35 or so groups that took part all came back absolutely buzzing from the response, and Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford, a proponent of the sustainable, non-motorised parade as providing something different, said it had topped off a wonderful day in The Square for children and families.

City councillor Adrian Broad, who earlier questioned the wisdom of the change, got right into it this year as part of a Manawatu Racing Club entry that teamed up with Awapuni School.

"The crowd was pretty excited", he said, and the children who took part had a wonderful time.

But fellow councillor Lew Findlay said he missed the trucks, which let dance and music groups perform where they could be seen.

He said a little boy in the crowd summed it up for him when he saw the Santa float go by at the end.

"He asked his mum, 'Is this the start of the parade?'"

Grandmother Brooke Barwick said it had lost its wow factor.

"I take my hat off to those that fronted up and got involved in an event that is run by the nit-picking PC parade.

"It was obvious to the eye that participants had trouble pulling round trailers that are meant to be pulled by vehicles."

Ms Kelly said many lessons had been learnt from last year's first non-motorised parade.

A lot of effort had gone into crowd control, to give the walkers space to be seen, and there was more noise.

"I think we are getting better, and are on to something."

The wind had been a challenge for many of the groups trying to keep lightweight props under control, and a Wings over Wairarapa display, which included models of planes, came to grief in the wind at Eketahuna and never arrived.

The winners for best entries were:

School: Te Wananga's smoke-breathing taniwha (despite a minor breakdown on the way).

Community group: The Manawatu Gang Show's Christmas Tree.

Business: More FM's Snoopy.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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