Willy Wonka theme a winner

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 10:22 25/10/2012

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Upper Moutere School has won the Nelson Arts Festival masked parade’s Kim Merry Supreme Award for the third time since 2008.

The small rural school this year wowed the judges with a Willy-Wonka-themed entry that included about 150 children dressed as Oompa Loompas or giant lollies on legs.

It came complete with a wheeled stereo, playing The Candyman, pushed by deputy principal Todd Brodie.
Principal Grant Watson said he didn’t know where the idea to do Willy Wonka came from, saying ‘‘It just happened’’.

The school had originally started brainstorming ideas for how they could put together a Lord of the Rings entry for myth and legend-themed competition, but Grant said they had to scrap it because it started to look too difficult.

He said the Willy Wonka costumes took about four or five weeks to complete during term three, and the school had rehearsed for an additional week last week.

They entered the competition every two years and had won each time they took part so far.

Grant attributes his school’s success to teamwork, saying: ‘‘We all get stuck in, work to our strengths and get on with it.’’

Event co-ordinator Michaela Blackman said the four judges based their decisions on the use of movement, theatre, relevance to the theme, mask wearing, and overall effect.

The judges were councillor Pete Rainey, Irish dance teacher Gilly English, artist Sam Laidlaw and Central School teacher Christine Harrison.

Despite early worries about a wet weekend, the weather gods smiled on Nelson and the parade went off without a drop of rain.

A record number of 4300 participants from around the Nelson and Tasman region looped around central Nelson from Montgomery Square.

It took about an hour for the last participants to leave the square and begin their journey down the sunny streets.

Gold-spangled Latin dancers Las Calientes led the parade by salsa dancing down Bridge St, followed by representatives from Victory Adult ESOL wearing large golden elephant masks.

Taniwhas and native birds were a popular theme which Nelson Montessori referenced with a sea of blue masks, while Learning Land Preschool got more adventurous by dressing their children as blue-faced kiwis.

Nayland College had entered the competition for the first time and about 30 students from their senior school had been working on four enormous masks since the end of August. Draco the dragon mask blew the crowds away, and he was soon followed by Aquila the eagle, a pegasus and a phoenix.

The larger-than-life masks were inspired by the college’s four houses.

Tasman School was one of two schools which referenced the Pied Piper of Hamlyn myth, sending some children dressed as rats and others as oversized versions of themselves. Tasman District mayor Richard Kempthorne joined their group.

Other surprising entries included a lone parade-walker dressed as Squidward from childrens’ television show ‘‘Spongebob Squarepants.’’

He carried a sign saying ‘‘If Squidward runs for mayor, will you give him some votes?’’

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Mahana’s parade entry referenced online South Korean pop sensation Gangnam Style in their Dr Seuss-themed entry, named Unless.

Adults carried large batons done up to look like truffula trees from The Lorax, while children dressed as bear-like Barbaloots and other fantastical creatures all did a synchronised dance.

Victory School rowed a large cardboard waka down the street while children dressed as sharks and Maori warriors followed behind, and the Sprig and Fern’s Dark Moon morris dancers followed behind.

Thousands of watchers lined the streets, some bringing deck chairs to sit on.

People danced and cheered as the parade made its way through town, and then either headed off for more fun at the More FM Carnivale or took their children home for dinner.

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