White boots and decorative busbies paraded around Trafalgar Park on Saturday as 76 teams of women from around the country marched to the beat of the 22nd National Leisure Marching Field Day.
Nelson turned on a brilliant weekend of sunshine for the event, after organisers held their breath in the weeks leading up to it, with the only wet-weather alternative venue suddenly no longer available.
Coach Carolyn Griffith of the host team, Nelson's Globetrotters Leisure Marchers, said the closure of the Trafalgar Centre had thrown organisation into a spin. They were this morning breathing a sigh of relief it was all over and had been a huge success.
"The event went off so well - it was wonderful. It all ran smoothly and like clockwork," Mrs Griffith said.
She said the evening function on Saturday, which was shifted to the Annesbrook Church with only a couple of months' notice, was an "absolute hit".
The leisure marching event's non-competitive nature was a "backdrop for renewing old friendships and making new ones", Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said at the official opening following Friday night's parade along Trafalgar St.
The annual event was last in Nelson in 2006, and the number of teams taking part each year had continued to grow, Mrs Griffith said.
She said it was evident many of the teams had stayed longer in Nelson, and had enjoyed getting out and about.
"A lot of teams - about 30 - arrived on Thursday and Friday, and I did see several mini buses with teams coming out of the World of WearableArt gallery yesterday."
Mrs Griffith said she was so busy on Saturday she did not have a lot of time to sit back and enjoy the marching, so she could not say if there was any one standout performance or team.
She said the uniforms had evolved over the years from a casual T-shirt and trousers, to a tracksuit and now there were uniforms that blended competitive marching elements, including hats. The music that leisure teams marched to was also different to competitive marching.
"A lot are now going for [music] tracks with songs in them, but it's really a personal choice, and depends on the age group."
She said leisure marching started as a 50-plus sport, but many in the teams were in their 70s and 80s.
Next year's event will be in Tauranga, followed by Invercargill the year after.
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