27 November 2022
Santa Parade kick-starts region’s Christmas festivities
The big fella has still got some pulling power.
Thousands lined Invercargill’s CBD streets on Saturday for the annual Southland Santa Parade with the special guest being Santa himself.
Saturday’s Santa Parade kick-started a series of Christmas events in the city. Other events will include the Murihiku Christmas Tree Festival (from November 29), Christmas Capers (December 1), Christmas at the Races (December 10), Xmas in the Park (December 18), Merry Little Christmas at the Stadium (December 18), and the ILT Christmas Variety Show (December 22).
This year’s Santa Parade returned to some normality with Covid-19 providing some challenges in recent years.
Last year organisers ditched the usual inner-city route and took the floats to suburban streets from Waikiwi to south Invercargill to avoid a large mass gathering while in Covid-19 restrictions.
Organiser Alice Pottinger said it was nice to have the community back together for an event like the Santa Parade.
While it is hard to put an exact figure on just how many people turned out, Pottinger said all indications were that it was a success, in terms of interest.
“Our drivers that have been doing it for a number of years think that it was a bigger crowd this year than any other that they’ve seen,” Pottinger said.
The 2022 parade featured about 60 floats from a variety of themes with hundreds of volunteers, young and older, taking part to help make the day a success.
This year a Gala Afternoon event was held after the parade at the Gala St Reserve where all the floats were parked up for people to view alongside food vendors.
Pottinger said that would now likely be an annual event following the parade.
On top of Santa’s appearance, another star in this year’s Southland Santa Parade was Black Fern rugby player Amy du Plessis.
du Plessis was part of the Black Ferns squad which was recently crowned world champions.
Her rugby journey started in Southland with Southland Girls’ High School.
She was joined on a rugby float in the parade by some children and had her Rugby World Cup winners medal on hand.
The Black Ferns midfielder said she was thrilled to take part in her home province’s Santa Parade.
“When I go the message I was obviously really keen to come down and be here to support the Christmas parade and just wanted to give back to the community.
“I’m really grateful to be here.”
“Credit to Southland Girls’ High where my rugby started am Southland rugby as well. It’s cool to be back home.”
Before the start of the parade Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark presented du Plessis with some flowers and congratulated her on behalf of the region.
Fellow Southland Black Fern Amy Rule was unable to attend Saturday’s parade but is likely to make an appearance in the Chrismas Parade in Riverton on Christmas Eve.
Source: The Southland Times – 27 November 2022