Silly season set to hit Chch

VICKI ANDERSON AND ANNA TURNER
Last updated 09:05 30/11/2012
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The silly season is set to hit Christchurch, with organisers gearing up for a range of Christmas events.

Workers are busy putting the finishing touches to Latimer Square for a month of Christmas festivities.

On Saturday, December 8, the Christmas in Latimer event will officially open with live music and a community picnic before the Telecom Tree is lit up at 9pm.

The seven-storey-high tree, which was set up in North Hagley Park last year, has 375,000 twinkling lights.

This year's tree has an additional feature that enables Christchurch residents to design their own light show via telecomtree.co.nz.

On December 14 and 15, the Twilight Encraftment market, featuring over 70 craft stalls, will be held in the square.

The YMCA Carols by Candlelight will start at 9pm on Christmas Eve. From 10.30pm, mass will be held in the square.

As well as the scheduled events, there will be various performers, stalls and food vendors at Latimer Square throughout December.

A phone box will be set up so children can ring the Telecom Santaline. A giant advent calendar made out of containers has been created by ZM and will sit on the corner of Hereford and Madras streets.

In other Christmas events, the New Brighton parade will take place tomorrow from 10am and the Christchurch Santa Parade will head down Riccarton Rd from 2pm on Sunday.

Prebbleton couple Carl and Maureen Seaward's animated Christmas light show, which they have spent about $100,000 developing in the past four years, also opens tomorrow.

The impressive lights display can be viewed from December 1 to 30, from 8.30pm to midnight, at 650 Shands Rd.

A $5 cover charge for adults applies this year, for the first time, to help fund improvements.

Children under 15 are not charged. Visit christmaswonderlandnz.co.nz.

RUN SANTA RUN

You do not have to have a belly like a bowl full of jelly to help deliver much-needed cheer to disadvantaged children.

Christchurch's Hagley Park will become a sea of red velvet on Wednesday when hundreds take part in the annual Great KidsCan Santa Run fundraiser.

People of all ages and sizes dressed in full Santa gear will take part in the two to three-kilometre fun run/walk, chafing their way in red velvet around the park.

Entry fees and donations collected from the event will go to the KidsCan Charitable Trust, a charity devoted to meeting the physical and nutritional needs of disadvantaged New Zealand children in low-decile schools.

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Organiser Shaun Collins, of Auckland-based Lactic Turkey Events, said since he held the first Santa Run in Auckland in 2009, after seeing similar events overseas, it had grown to become a nationwide event.

There may not be many chimneys left in Christchurch but there are plenty of would-be Santas.

"This year it's being held in 10 venues around New Zealand and we're expecting between 3500 and 4000 runners," Collins said.

"In Christchurch, the event has grown steadily each year; already we're up markedly on last year's numbers. We've got a lot of corporate teams from Christchurch who have entered this year, accounting and legal firms."

Santas will run in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Dunedin, Tauranga, Whangarei, Rotorua and Taupo.

"All profits and donations made on the day go to KidsCan. Last year we donated $26,000 to them, which I think is pretty good for a small event. It's a great local cause and it's awesome to help local kids.

"It's also a fun event that people enjoy doing."

People register online - it costs $28 for an adult and $10 for a child under 14.

For this entry fee, each adult receives a free Santa suit - "just adults at the moment because we can't find Santa suits small enough for kids" - and a goodie bag that includes a $30 voucher to spend on Mizuno shoes at The Athletes Foot.

Competition in the "best-dressed" category is also fierce - elves, Rudolphs and other assorted characters have been known to make appearances.

Collins said many Santas brought scissors to the event to "modify" their velvet suits.

"The girls are OK because their outfit includes a red skirt but quite a lot of men bring scissors to modify their hot suits into shorts and singlet versions."

Like Santa himself, for Collins the biggest challenge is the logistics of ensuring enough goodie bags are sent to each location.

"A lot of people don't register and just turn up on the day, I would hate anyone to miss out on their goodie bag."

The Great KidsCan Santa Run, Wednesday, 6.30pm, at Hagley Park North, Rolleston Ave. All ages. Register at lacticturkey.co.nz.

- The Press

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