Bringing the bang

03:27, Aug 27 2014
Southland Times photo
FAMILY FUN: Kobyn William, 6, with granddad Arnold Hancock, who has donated $100 towards bring the fireworks back to the Alexandra Blossom Festival.

One month out from the 58th Blossom Festival float numbers are down and the fireworks display is in jeopardy. JO McKENZIE-McLEAN reports. 

Alexandra Granddad Arnold Hancock wants to put a smile on his grandchildren's faces - and he is challenging other grandparents and parents to do the same.

The fireworks display at this year's Alexandra Blossom Festival is in doubt and organisers are calling on the community for help.

Hancock, who runs the Caltex Service Station, was one of the first to put his hand in his pocket and has donated $100 to help make sure the fireworks display continues.

"The kids just enjoyed them so much last time and there was quite a big crowd there. I think if we could get enough support behind it there is no reason it can't continue."

Kobyn said the firework display last year was "cool"


"They go high and pop in the sky. It's really cool and they are really loud."

Event organiser Martin McPherson said due to a cash shortfall in grant funding, they did not have the $5000 needed to put on the fireworks display.

The display was the highlight of last year's event and was on par with any metro centre, he said.

"Last year we had some funds available to pay for it ourselves . . . because it was received so well last year we really don't want to drop it. It only takes 50 people to put in $50. If we don't raise enough I will give it all back."

The cash shortfall was not the only disappointment for organisers with float numbers and princesses down on previous years.

Only five floats with princesses had been entered to date, he said.

Strong supporters like the Alexandra Fire Brigade, were not entering floats this year because members' spare time and resources were taken up with their building upgrade, he said.

"While that's disappointing, it's also generated some really great ideas and initiatives of how to maintain the procession's vibrancy."

Organisers had tried to diversify and came up with the "florreys" concept - a cross between a float and an Alexandra New World-donated shopping trolley, he said.

Exhibitors decorated a florrey with their theme of choice.

The idea has captured people's imaginations, particularly young people, had 21 entries had been received so far, he said.

"It's a sign of the times, when people are time-poor, so we've had to diversify by introducing less labour-intensive options, to build on the idea that a float doesn't necessarily have to made from crepe flowers."

There was $2000 in prize money and New World vouchers for the winner, he said.

However, the parade would not be the same without its crepe-clad classics, which would showcase favourites from previous years, such as the Stadium Tavern's 2011 winner, the Buzzy Bees, and the Wobbly Ducks, which charmed parade-goers in 2012, he said.

"They're up for adoption and refurbishment by passionate individuals, so people should give me a call if they're interested in taking them on."

The builder and retired dairy farmer Peter Roberts, said he would be happy to see his creations get another outing.

"I'd be happy to give people a hand, to show them how they work, and it will be fun for people to dress them up. That's what makes float-making such a community thing."

Another blow had been the loss of Truck Stops - the truck parade sponsors for 33 years. However, the main street would still be graced with shiny, wheeled beasts, he said.

"I didn't want to see it go, so together with ATL [an Alexandra trucking company] we've taken on the responsibility, and been in contact with various operators around the south. So yes, they'll still be there with horns and bells on."

Festival committee chair Clair Higginson said the arrival of spring encapsulated the Alexandra Blossom Festival spirit.

"For me, the key reason that blossom festival works is that the whole community involves themselves, and that the town still has the passion to make it happen."

People can make donations to the Alexandra Blossom Festival Fireworks account at the BNZ.

The Mirror