Parade still lacking a vital ingredient

The Riverton Christmas Parade has long been one of the highlights of the festive season for many people in Southland.

Held every Christmas Eve, it attracts people from around the province and involves more and more local people each year.

Unfortunately, one key ingredient is missing - a brass band.

Raewyn Black, who has been one of the main organisers for at least 15 years, said she was desperate for a brass band to play but had not been able to find one.

"We would love a brass band. Invercargill's [parade] is a month out from Christmas and people are quite happy to come."

Fewer people are willing to take up their Christmas Eve, which meant it was hard to attract a band.

"Anybody who can play a brass instrument and would like to appear, please contact me," she said. "It's difficult to do it on Christmas Eve but it's worth the effort."

Organising the parade is a year-round activity for Mrs Black and her family.

The Blacks' farm is full of Christmas paraphernalia.

Wool sheds are home to several floats, including Santa's sleigh and Noddy's car.

Things can get hectic whenever the sheds need to be used.

"We have hundreds of costumes," Mrs Black said. "We gradually built them up over time."

Yesterday most of the children who will take part in the parade visited the farm to be fitted for costumes.

Mrs Black said she would be spending the evening making the necessary adjustments.

Many of the costumes and props are recycled and salvaged.

Mrs Black is always looking for new things to add to the parade.

The Disney character heads were made by an art teacher at Aparima College and were found "out the back" of the school ready to be thrown away.

The Noddy car was found rotting under trees near Winton. She thought it would take a couple of days to repair but it ended up taking three weeks.

"We found them and rescued them," she said.

The most satisfaction came from seeing families enjoy the show.

"People love it. It's nice families can come. Dads get time off on Christmas Eve too, that's what I love about it."

The Southland Times