Dastardly pirates, swaying mermaids, giant squid, penguins on ice, a beaming lighthouse, and about 20 Spongebob Squarepantses helped transform Motueka's High St into the sea for the town's nautically themed Starlight Parade.
Forty floats took 40 minutes to travel the parade route down High St last night which was crowded with thousands of spectators who cheered for their favourite entries and called out to friends and family.
The 7pm parade was held an hour earlier than in previous years. Organiser Peter Garlick said that was to allow younger children to have a chance before bedtime to see the man in red in his traditional place at the rear of the parade, as well as to encourage High St retailers to stay open late. The parade was organised by the Motueka Events Charitable Trust, which is supported by business boosting group Our Town Motueka.
After the parade Ethan Woods, 8, said his favourite float was Santa, with the "Minecraft Addicts Anonymous" a close second.
Kelly Walls was with The Warehouse float, giving her the reverse view of the parade. It was her first time in the Starlight Parade and she said she loved "the kids waving back and feeling the excitement".
Judges Peter Canton and Tara Forde gave the Best Sea Theme prize to the Riwaka Scouts, Cubs and Keas, whose "Life's a Beach" float featured a boatload of keen anglers, towing 10-year-old Nicole Drummond, who was sunning herself in an inner tube, as well as a large lighthouse. The judges said it was obvious the group had put a great deal of effort into their entry.
The Friends and Family prize went to the Polak family's "Pirates of the Caribbean", which made for a good present for Ben Polak on his 10th birthday and the Best Community Float went to the Community Service Centre for the truck disguised as a shark towing a float called "Give your Children the Gift of Time".
The Best School prize went to Rudolf Steiner School for their "The Safe Journey" float and the Best Business entry went to the colourfully feathered "Carnivale" showgirls of Lynne Painter's Motueka and Brightwater Zumba classes. Mr Canton said he was impressed by how the Zumba dancers' energy had created a lot of energy in the crowd.
Mr Garlick said he was thrilled with how smoothly the parade ran, and with the warm dry evening that followed a day of sporadic rain. He said street marshals told him that the crowd was larger than last year's.
After the official parade was over the party in the street continued, with a group of about a dozen international workers from Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Germany and other countries forming a spontaneous samba parade of drumming and dancing. It was a fitting way to conclude the balmy evening when most of Motueka came out to celebrate the festive season.
- The Nelson Mail
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