Merran Greenhalgh, a volunteer who has been involved with the parade for over 15 years, says extracting the floats is an art in itself that can take up to six hours.
“We start at about 5:30 in the morning, and we usually have things going from about 11am. It is a bit quicker at the end of the day because we’re just running everything back in, we’re not quite so concerned with the order.”
The floats follow the progression in a pre-planned order, with volunteers tracking alongside keeping an eye on the event to make sure all goes to plan; moving mechanisms, children, balloons, actors and spectators mean the volunteers never have a dull moment.
The parade has a flawless record of safety. Taylor says improving safety procedures is an ongoing focus that’s updated each year.
“We’re out there with the public and the wind and we don’t want a disaster or to hurt anyone; which thankfully hasn’t happened in all the years it’s been going.”
Greenhalgh’s whole family has volunteered for the better part of 30 years. This followed her father’s involvement alongside Farmers Santa Parade management company Crackerjack Events, which resulted in him becoming a fleet controller for the parade.
“Dad came home with fun stories every year, and so we really wanted to be a part of it. Then having done it for several years we just wanted to keep helping. It’s such a great event, such a nice day. Peter and his team have always been so incredible, and you really just want to do the most you can to help out.”
She says Taylor and his team’s dedication to making each year perfect has kept the parade running smoothly, as well as increased the number of spectators and volunteers that want to be involved each year. Over 500 people assist with behind the scenes and 1500 dress up in costume.
“Peter has an incredible vision each year for the floats that he puts together, and he has a very infectious personality when you’re working alongside him in the warehouse. He takes great pride in making every existing float and every new float perfect… The team have always worked so hard to make everything new every year…it’s such an amazing event for kids.”
A positive attitude is necessary for Christmas all year around, and Taylor says the support of the sponsors that get involved from businesses helps keep things moving.
“I’ve been to so many parades and there is always the unwavering excitement of little kids and the parents who bring them along, it’s just an exciting day. It can be quite stressful for us who are involved with it, because we want to put on the best show and we want to make sure things go smoothly; but there is an excitement with it as well.”
Taylor is certain the 85th annual Santa Parade will be one to remember.
“I just like to focus on the floats and do the best I can, but no doubt there will be something extra to celebrate the 85th anniversary. It’s going to be exciting but all we can hope for is a nice sunny day, and everything will go great out there.”
The creation of these iconic floats could not be implemented year after year without the support and funding from sponsors. As thousands line the streets to view these masterpieces, there is ample opportunity for your business to be included and participate in one of Auckland’s most anticipated days of the summer.