OPINION: Organisers of the Palmerston North Christmas Parade are trying to boost excitement levels at the event's second foray into non-motorisation - by pumping up the volume.
Last year was the first time cars, trucks and motorcycles were banned and replaced by a plethora of hand-held floats, bicycles and trolleys. Even Mayor Jono Naylor got in on the fun by jumping on a long board and skating around The Square.
Unsurprisingly, the change drew complaints from some of the public, who were dismayed that the fume-spewing motorcade of yesteryear was handed the red card. But the non-motorised parade was a marked improvement on the dreary array of cars, trucks and bikes that had for years marred the Palmerston North parade.
Of course, some of the motorised entries made an effort to be festive, but entering your company's B-Train, devoid of any decoration or Christmas theme, does not a successful parade float make.
Not allowing people to enter their company's car or truck in the parade forced entrants to use some imagination, and there certainly were some weird and wonderful sights to behold on the day. It was by no means a flawless event.
The parade seemed muted and low rent in parts and, as unappealing as trucks barrelling around The Square may have been, the larger motorised floats did provide a sense of spectacle.
A major complaint was that some people were unable to see the floats last year but, in an effort to remedy this, organiser Carol Kelly has made amendments to the route and taped off areas to allow for better views.
The volume will also be amped up with pipe bands, drum teams and portable amplifiers being used to imbue the parade with more vibrancy.
Some people will groan about any changes, but the non-motorised parade gives Palmerston North a point of difference.
Not only does it make people to tap into their creative sides, it also has an environmentally friendly theme, with entrants encouraged to use recycled materials to design floats.
And for anyone who feels their life will be unfulfilled without seeing a parade complete with floats run by internal combustion engines, there is always an excellent Feilding Christmas Parade to look forward to on December 9.
ONE MORE THING:
When Irish immigrant Dan Higgins started his contracting business in the 1950s, he must never have imagined his company would one day be paving roads in Fiji. But that is exactly what the Manawatu success story will be doing from next year, having won a four-year-long, $200 million project to build more than 6000km of road in the Pacific nation.
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