Thousands flock to carnival

Last updated 05:00 02/01/2014
Oakura Beach carnival
SCAVENGER HUNT: Children ploughed through sand for treasure in the annual big dig.
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The carnival that almost wasn't drew thousands to Oakura Beach yesterday.

The New Year's Day festival was in jeopardy last year when the New Plymouth Old Boys' Surf Life Saving Club decided to pull the plug on hosting the event this summer.

The coastal community rallied together to keep the long-running carnival afloat.

Event organiser Sara Greensill-van Prehn was happy with the turnout, and suspected more people attended than last year.

Ms Greensill-van Prehn and eight other festival enthusiasts formed a committee in June and spent months organising the event, sponsorship and volunteers.

"It's been three months of intense organising. Everyone on the committee really wanted to keep the carnival going," she said.

Oakura resident and committee spearhead Don Harvey said the day was fantastic.

"They've done a wonderful job. It's been a tough year for myself, and the surf club lost half of its membership due to unfortunate circumstances," he said.

"I'll definitely support it next year, and the surf club will be in a better position to help."

Feedback from organisers and the public suggest the day was a success, and Ms Greensill-van Prehn said the event would go ahead again next year.

"It'll be easier next year. Bigger and better."

Yesterday was a learning curve for the team, but Ms Greensill-van Prehn hoped it was also the start of something new.

"We have high school bands, a waterslide, and the Mitre 10 Mega Water Fight on the beach. They have vegetable throwing overseas, maybe we can start a new tradition here with the water fight."

The 2000 or so people down at the beach enjoyed a variety of food stalls and live music from local bands and X Factor NZ contestant Tom Bachelor.

There were plenty of activities for children including a big dig and velcro wall, and Mike's Brewery organised a beer garden for the adults.

However, the traditional Miss Taranaki pageant was missing this year as organiser Lois Finderup decided it was time to revamp the contest when the carnival was up in the air.

Spot prizes were awarded and raffles were sold on the day, with a top prize of return flights and a week for two at a resort in Queensland won by one lucky crowd member.

The weather held out until 3.30pm when the skies opened and rain poured on carnival-goers.

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- Taranaki Daily News


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