Festival fans with a spring in their step

19:50, Sep 28 2013
Martin McPherson and daughter Sophie-May
Alexandra Blossom Festival event organiser Martin McPherson stands under blooming blossom trees with his 11-year-old daughter Sophie-May.

The blossoms floating down Alexandra's main street in the breeze is a clear giveaway it's time to mark the arrival of spring.

The annual event attracted hundreds of people yesterday as they lined the streets of Alexandra, to watch the Grand Procession float parade as part of New Zealand's longest running festival.

The Alexandra Blossom Festival is in its 57th year.

Southland Times photo
Smurfs make their way down the street during the Alexandra Blossom Festival parade.

Handcrafted floats covered in traditional paper flowers and Blossom Festival princesses on board waved to the crowds.

Event organiser Martin McPherson said: "This is a day out for mum, dad, the kids and grandparents. A day for the young and the young at heart," he said.

Ten competitive floats entered the annual competition with cash prizes between $500 and $200o awarded to best float, best traditional, best contemporary, best school and most innovative or creative float.

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However, a float featuring a 12-week-old foetus with signs saying "Who will save me?" and "Adoption will save me", was banned from the parade on Thursday. The float, dubbed "Biggles to the Rescue", was the work of the group Life is Precious and was considered inappropriate.

Marching bands, stilt walkers, trucks, vintage cars and hundreds of school children will be taking part in the parade.

Those attending the Party in the Park at Pioneer Park, which starts after the parade, will have a chance to vote for their favourite float in the people's choice award.

The Blossom Festival Queen for 2013, selected from the 10 hopeful princesses, will also be crowned.

Central Otago Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said police would be highly visible throughout the event and would also patrol nearby roads, including manning vehicle stop checkpoints.

A total liquor ban is in place throughout the Alexandra, Clyde and Cromwell for the weekend.

The festival ends on October 12 after the Mirror WoolOn Fashion Show.

The Southland Times