Spectacular display promised again

This year's Lights over Marlborough fireworks display is set to again be a huge crowd pleaser, with a variety of stalls, live music, dances and, of course, the massive fireworks display itself.

A much anticipated event on the Marlborough community calendar, Lights over Marlborough had humble beginnings as a fireworks display in the school grounds. Over the years, however, it has grown to become an annual highlight of the summer.

Now in its 29th year, the event is organised and run by Whitney Street School in Blenheim and will be held at A&P Park this Saturday from 6pm. Some $7000 worth of fireworks will be let off in a carefully planned and controlled sequence that organisers say will last around 20 minutes.

"We expect between 3500 and 4000 people this year. Last year there were around 5000 people," said Whitney Street School principal, Alan Straker, who has been involved with the event for four years as a parent and 21 years as principal.

"This display is considered the main fireworks display for Marlborough and is the primary fundraising event for the school for the year."

The success of the evening is very much down to the work of the school staff, parents and pupils. A group of 15 parents form the organising committee, with about 40 turning out on the day to help set up and run the event.

The kids aren't left out either and they do their bit in preparing for the day by making posters for the food stalls and organise a kiddie corner with games of other youngsters.

"The kids really look forward to it each year and are pretty involved in making it happen," said Alan.

The school's dance group will also perform during the evening as will its highly regarded kapa haka group. Other attractions include the ever popular chocolate wheel, a silent auction and live music.

Entry to the event is free for kids under 5 and$7 for everyone else. Lights over Marlborough provides a major funding boost for Whitney Street School. Organisers hope to generate $20,000 in profit, which will be used for building new changing sheds at the school pool.

"We feel it is good value for money, with a great fireworks display and all the other things going on as well," said Alan.

Gates open at 6pm, with the Whitney Street Kapa Haka group starting at 7pm and the school's Jump Jam group doing their show at 7.30pm. The evening will culminate with the fireworks display, that is set to begin at 9.15pm.

The New Zealand Fire Service recommend that people attend public fireworks displays rather than having fireworks at home.

Organisers encourage families to come along and enjoy the pre-fireworks food and atmosphere. Bring a blanket to sit on as well as something warm to wear. If the weather is bad, the event will be held the following day.

The Marlborough Express