Hybrid Christmas parade hits right note

00:23, Feb 13 2013
REVVING UP THE FUN: The parade will take on even more action next year with the addition of motors.

After two motor-free years, Palmerston North's Christmas parade could switch to a hybrid option in December.

A public meeting was held in the city yesterday where more than 20 representatives of businesses, community groups and parade participants shared their thoughts with Destination Manawatu staff.

Although no formal decision was made, the overwhelming view of those at the meeting was that engines needed to play a part in any future Christmas parades.

For the past two years, the Palmerston North parades have been motor-free, meaning no trucks, or floats towed by cars. Parade participants instead walked the route around The Square or towed floats with golf carts.

"This would appear to be something that has polarised the community," Destination Manawatu deputy chairman Denis Jenkins said.

Barbara Dawson from St Mathew's Church said her position was clear.


"It's very difficult without motorised [floats], if we don't have motorised, we won't be doing it again."

Former parade organiser and Palmerston North businesswoman Leonie Hapeta said, whether the parade had motors or not, the enjoyment of spectators, particularly children, had to be central in organisers' minds.

"It's important for kids to be able to see what's in the parade."

This was more difficult in a non-motorised parade, she added.

Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford acknowledged people struggled to see what was happening in the non-motorised parades.

The parades had also been shorter in duration, he said.

However, he thought those taking part in the parade had been more creative with parade entries.

A longer route would make it easier to bring vehicles back to the parade, he said, but it would be harder for those walking. "We couldn't have a long parade of walkers and couldn't have a short truck parade."

The question was raised about having a parade that was longer than now but flexible to allow walkers to complete a shorter route than the motorised floats.

That option gained the support of almost all people at the meeting.

Those at the meeting also discussed how to attract greater participation in the parade.

Manawatu Standard