Santa ready for pre-Christmas visit to South

Santa’s elves are putting the final sparkling touches to the Christmas floats which will feature in the Southland Santa Parade this afternoon.

The parade will begin at 1pm and follow the traditional 3km circuit around the city, starting on Gala St, travelling down Dee St, and heading to Tay St, before looping on to Kelvin St and heading back to Gala St.

Chief elf and event organiser Alice Pottinger said 70 parade entrants would be a part of the 23rd staging of the event.

This will include community groups, walkers, sponsors and 28 floats.

Among the array of floats, one making its debut will pay tribute to Black Ferns’ prop Amy Rule, of Riverton, who was a part of the winning Women’s Rugby World Cup team this year.

“Southlanders are proud of her achievements and it’s something we want to celebrate, and the float will feature in the Riverton Christmas parade,” Mrs Pottinger said.

The public is welcome to view the floats up close after the parade at the gala afternoon, held at the Gala St Reserve from 2.30pm-5pm.

The idea of hosting the Gala Afternoon was formed as a result of last year’s Covid-19 restrictions, which limited the amount of people who could gather in one place.

“We invited people to Queens Park and people enjoyed wandering around and being able to see the floats up-close-and-personal with no time restraint, so this year we have decided to put the parade and the gala event together.”

There will be food vendors, market stalls — some of which will be run by Young Enterprise Scheme students — and entertainment including live music, Mrs Pottinger said.

They were looking forward to getting everyone back together as one in the community, she said.

“It is a great, diverse event which stretches right across the community, so it will be great to see everyone again.”

She wanted to thank all of Santa’s helpers who had put in the extra work on the floats during the past four weeks.

“They have been taking the covers off the floats and helping a lot with the maintenance which we are grateful for.

“We have a good core group of people who are here for it every year, and it makes the difference.”

She also wanted to thank the wider community for their support in bringing in the Christmas festivities year after year.