Masked Parade the biggest so far

The weather gods were smiling on Nelson as the streets were filled with myths and legends for the annual Masked Parade last night.

Thousands lined the streets, stood on boxes and gazed down from building windows to get a look at the 4300 paraders. Organisers described it as the biggest parade yet.

The fine weather held for the celebrations after a brief patch of morning rain.

POPULAR ENTRY: Nayland College takes part in the annual Masked Parade last night.
POPULAR ENTRY: Nayland College takes part in the annual Masked Parade last night.

The Las Calientes dancers led the parade and were followed by myths and legends ranging from Maori legends to Willy Wonka.

Nayland College's entry was popular with the crowd with its four giant masks, the heads of a dragon, phoenix, pegasus and eagle, but Upper Moutere School's entry based on Willy Wonka took top honours.

Different schools brought to life Pandora's box, Noah's Ark and the Pied Piper with the Tasman District mayor Richard Kempthorne joining Tasman School in their Pied Piper.

People in the crowd clapped and cheered and masked kids waved at parents watching from the footpaths.

Spectator Amanda Raine said this was the first year she had a chance to see the parade.

"Nice to see, particularly with the schools, the effort they've put in."

Heather Arnold said her family always come and her children love wearing masks as they watch.

"It's a great evening.

"There was a really good variety - lots of good floats and music."

Even some Trafalgar St store owners were keen to get a look in, with Overland Footwear staff Sarah Davidson and Sina Dubbelman getting a good view from the front door of the store.

They said it was something they do every year.

"It brings the community together," Ms Dubbelman said.

Ms Davidson said they like the atmosphere of the event.

"Everyone's really friendly, safe and happy."

Nelson Arts Festival director Sophie Kelly said she thought the parade went well.

"[There's] an amazing turnout of supporters," she said.

She thought it was just the beginning of a really good night.

When the parade finished, the party continued on at the More FM Carnivale at the top of Trafalgar St.

Ms Kelly said most of the young people were well behaved.

"Our efforts to get the safe partying message out to teenagers . . . has obviously worked. I'm really pleased that young people were respectful of the alcohol ban."

Senior Sergeant Stu Koeford, of Nelson Police, also said the crowd was well behaved. Police arrested six people on relatively minor offences, a number considerably down on last year.

Mr Koeford said 21 bar checks were conducted, with no offences detected, and none of the 250 vehicles stopped at checkpoints were drink-drivers.

Montreal's afro-pop band H'Sao kicked off the dancing with other live acts headlined by Tahuna Breaks and including the 2012 Smokefree Rockquest winner New Vinyl and finalist Oh Blok.

The Nelson Mail