There is only one place to be on New Year's Day - the Oakura Beach Carnival.
When the New Plymouth Old Boys' Surf Club decided not to run the carnival again it looked likely that the popular event would fold. However Oakura resident Richard (Richie) Shearer and others had other ideas. The Oakura Beach Carnival Trust was established with Richie as chairman and Sara Greensill-van Prehn as secretary. Sara was one of the organisers for the surf club last year and wanted it to continue.
"It was a pretty tight time-frame," says Richie, "but we have got there, thanks in a big way to Sara. She has wonderful organisational skills. I report to her," he laughs.
The committee of eight has worked tirelessly finding sponsors (it costs more than $25,000 to run the event) and working out the programme with the main aim of making New Year's Day on the beach a family affair. "It is all about community togetherness and having a bit of fun with the emphasis on family," says Richie.
The programme is exciting with wide appeal. "We have some great entertainment lined up," says Richie. "The Flacks will be there; Taranaki's favourite party band. They like to have a good time and it shows in their performance. They play covers from classics, like The Beatles, right through to their own original material."
Also performing will be Tom Batchelor from X-Factor fame. "He is a talented singer- songwriter who will do a full set, which will be exciting because on X-Factor we only got to see one or two songs."
Bands from New Plymouth Boys' High School and Hawera High School will entertain. "It's great to see these kids on stage," says Richie. "They are sure to be a hit with the teenagers."
The carnival has some wonderful activities for children of all ages.
The Clelands Construction Kids Zone will keep the young ones busy for hours. There is a nine- metre inflatable climbing tower that looks like an upside-down ice-cream cone. A harness ensures that if a child does fall they will merely slide down safely.
The ever-popular bouncy castle will be there along with an obstacle course for the young ones. There is a petting zoo with live, tame animals and for the more adventurous a massive waterslide. Parents should ensure the children have togs and/or wetsuits.
"As well as all this, we have loads of other activities for the children," says Richie.
Over on the beach side, Taranaki's first ever Mitre 10 Mega water fight will take place. There are two separate events, 10 years and under and 11 years and above. Richie anticipates that a large number of participants will be well past the 11 years mark. "There will be many big kids enjoying a water fight," he laughs. People are welcome to bring sponges and water guns.
The Trust is very grateful to the Oakura Volunteer Fire Brigade; its members will be digging a dam so that the kids and big kids can refill their water weapons. Spot prizes are on offer for contestants who make a special effort, such as with costumes, and/or are noticed by the referees.
Richie says that in this PC age, health and safety is always part of any organised event and has to be taken seriously. "We have tried to come up with an arrangement whereby people can still have fun but safely."
All this fun and frivolity is bound to make attendees hungry and thirsty so a visit to the Taranaki Daily News Global Food Village should take care of that. It is much like a mini-Womad, covering all tastes and featuring Indian, Malaysian, Mexican, Turkish and European food. The food is affordable for families with a lot of offerings costing between $5 and $12.
"We guarantee a decent lunch," says Richie.
The carnival starts at 11am and ends at 4.30pm. While it costs nothing to get in, people are encouraged to buy a $5 raffle ticket with a main prize of a trip to two to Australia. The raffle will be drawn at 3pm and you don't have to be there to win.
Programmes are available for a gold coin donation and they are linked to spot prizes drawn every 30 minutes. These prizes include a helicopter ride for two from Beck Helicopters and meal vouchers at a number of Taranaki restaurants.
All proceeds for the day will go to various organisations and clubs in Taranaki.
The Oakura Beach Carnival Trust is very grateful to all its sponsors with special thanks to Worley Parsons and the TSB Community Trust for their support.
- Taranaki Daily News
The lower drink-driving limits from December are:Related story: Drink-drive limits lowered