Festive parade sparkles and delights
Christmas magic exploded into Mangawhai recently in a long, colourful parade of festive song, glittering tinsel, joyful cheers and of course the star of the show, Santa Claus.
Over 25 floats from local businesses, schools, community services and clubs brought the festive season to life for thousands of locals and visitors who lined the streets under a clear blue sky on December 16, to witness Mangawhai’s first Christmas parade in over eight years.
Beginning at Alamar Crescent’s boat ramp, the slow procession, led by local police, wound around local roads, through Mangawhai Heads’ Wood Street shopping centre and down Molesworth Drive to the final destination, Mangawhai Activity Zone (MAZ). Crowds basking in the hot sun were cooled down by children, and adults, on floats armed with water guns and lollies were passed around as were season’s greetings.
On arrival at MAZ, Santa was immediately surrounded by young admirers, eager to have a word in the jolly man’s ear regarding their ideas for presents when he visits them on Christmas Day, and to get a photo. Children were also delighted to receive an early gift from Santa’s willing helpers. Bouncy castles, a sausage sizzle and local ukulele singing sensation ‘Totally Uked’ added to the festive atmosphere.
Brought to the community by MAZ chief organizer and Santa’s main man, John Phillis says his expectations of the event have been exceeded.
“I knew it was going to be good but the response from the community, from all the people on the streets and those participating, was just outstanding! So pleased that so many people enjoyed the parade,” he says. “A huge thank you to everyone who helped out from wrapping the 350-plus presents to street marshalls, to local authorities, the police, ambulance, fire brigade and community patrol and those who helped financially
including The Mangawhai Club, and of course Santa himself for coming down all this way. Look forward to doing it all again next year!”
The parade is planned to be an annual event ‘with a few tweaks’ including more shade while families queue to see Santa, Phillis says.
Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith had the unenviable task of deciding the winning float, looking for creativity, local flavour, an extra special message, effort and participation, as well as safety aspects especially with regards to children, to help make his decision.
“What a mighty job! Such a community spirit being shown from all of our society,” he says. “A beautiful day and an amazing parade – 360 degrees of pure magic.”
While most float participants were unaware they were being assessed, one group decided to be a bit more proactive and attempted to sway the mayor in his decision with a cheeky bribe of chocolate!
And did the sweet allure have any influence? Maybe. Rodney College received a ‘Highly Recommended’ from the mayor along with Kauri Coast Gardens, while the creative collaboration between Mangawhai Beach School and Mangawhai Shed received runner-up. Founder of the Shed, Stephen Mackay, says the project was a ‘true joy’ to work on.
“Over the two months it took to build, five unknown people at the Shed – and parents of children of the school – came together and it just magically happened,” he says.
North Glass was the ultimate winner, chosen Smith says due to the float incorporating the spirit of the event.
“Their float was totally creative, the presents on board were all handmade, the kids were constantly singing so generating lots of Christmas cheer and sending it out to the community,” he says. “Congratulations John for putting together such an amazing event and to the community for stepping up to make it fantastic… it was spectacular! Congratulations Mangawhai! Meri Kirihimete, Merry Christmas!”