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Ho ho ho! Santa starring in bumper weekend of events

Flagstaff Team

A kids’ highlight… Onlookers at the 2022 Santa parade, an event set to draw the crowds again this year

A celebratory weekend is in store for Devonport to launch the holiday season at the start of December.

Heralding the return of street party Friday After Five, the perennially popular Santa Parade and Christmas Festival with markets, a large Christmas tree will be installed on Windsor Reserve. Street banners will be unfurled and shops provided with origami paper stars by the Devonport Business Association (DBA) to decorate windows.

The bumper selection of events will run over the same weekend of 1-3 December.

DBA chair Rob Vickery said the four-me- tre tree on Windsor Reserve will signal the start of the season. “Next year we will go a bit more elaborate, with a tree-light turning-on ceremony.”

By then he hopes to have replaced the artificial DBA tree – which saw previous service inside Devonport Library – with a real version, but this year intends eking out its useful life outdoors. Local business Pitch Black will help with scaffolding to put it up and decorate it.

Acknowledging that he had initially been unsure about the value of continuing with Friday After Five, Vickery said it was well-liked by locals, who have enjoyed seeing Clarence St transformed with family-friendly entertainment and food stalls.

With limited time and $20,000 funding available from the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for one event, it made sense to continue with the community celebration, while exploring other ideas for the future.

To make more of the opportunity to capitalise on the crowds drawn by Friday After Five, which begins at 5pm on 1 December, Vickery intended asking businesses to consider staying open later that evening.

The 18th Devonport Santa Parade, organised by the Devonport Lions Club, will be held on Sunday 3 December.

Uncertainty had clouded the parade and following festival after the defunding of the Devonport Peninsula Trust, which had

coordinated events. “We weren’t sure there was even going to be a parade,” said Lions president Bruce Wetherall.

But Lions is spending some $10,000 to ensure it goes ahead, around half of that on traffic-management charges.

Thirty-five float entries from community groups, schools and businesses were confirmed, with room for more, Wetherall said.

The parade will again be led by North Shore Brass, with the Navy Pipes and Drums at the rear.

The floats assemble in the morning at the western end of Clarence St, with the parade on Victoria Rd from 11am.

Children will later have the chance to meet Santa.

Monthly Devonport Market organiser Matt Jones, who this year has also taken on the Takapuna Sunday Market, has stepped up to coordinate a Christmas market at Windsor Reserve and outside the ferry terminal on Sunday, while Lofty Ned will again run a Christmas dance showcase, Dance in the Park, in the reserve.

Jones is helping coordinate community groups who use the market as a fundraiser, and also bringing in commercial stallholders. “The Christmas Festival is such a fantastic day for Devonport,” he said.

For those with a sustainability bent, a separate Ethical Christmas Market is being held at the Devonport Community House on Sunday 3 December, from 10am to 3pm.

• Looking to make a full weekend of it? Bayswater Markets returns on Saturday 2 December, 8am- 2pm at O’Neills Park, at the western end of Bayswater Ave.

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