Parade: Santa comes to town

- the 70th and 19th editions of the annual Santa parades concluded in Christchurch and Dunedin respectively in the first week of December

Marking 70 years of something is no mean feat. Especially in the rapidly changing modern life with so many distractions all around. But Christchurch’s Annual Santa Parade achieved that on December 4. Though with time, the event has become more multicultural in nature, with Indian, Chinese, Nepalese and Fiji floats proving to be great crowd pullers.

While the first edition of the annual event featured just three horse-driven floats, this year – the 70th edition – had over 130 floats parading through the 1.9km route with thousands gathering on the sides of the City’s famous Riccarton Road. Over 3,500 people took part in the parade, which was skilfully managed by more than 4,00 volunteers.

Run by the Christchurch Children’s Christmas Parade Trust, which itself owns 40 floats, the Parade ended with Santa coming on a specially-designed float, depicting fairies, reindeers and his castle.

  The controversial Ojibwe tribe float at Christchurch's 70th Annual Santa Parade

The Parade, this year, though was not free from controversies. First was the issue of the Confederate flag which was flown on the Dukes of Hazzard float last year. It was absent from this year's parade when the Trust decided to remove it after some members of the public raised objection due to the flag’s link with white supremacist movement.

Another was the float featuring children dressed as First Nations and native Americans, specifically the Ojibwe tribe. Called by some as “highly inappropriate and culturally insensitive”, the organisers decided to keep the float saying that they have the “blessing of the Ojibwe tribe” to parade the float.


Further down from Christchurch, in the Otago region, another annual Santa Parade was held on Sunday, announcing the arrival of Christmas festivities in the town. The Parade, which is in its 19th year, saw more than 80 floats, with many local businesses contributing towards making Otago’s largest free public event a great success. Fire engines, clowns and a white-bearded Santa Claus were the main attractions for children. The event ended with a family-friendly musical concert held at Octagon, Dunedin’s city centre.

According to the Dunedin City Council, the festivities will continue this week with the opening of Pixie Town at Otago Settlers Museum on December 9. “Visitors will be able to enjoy the historic exhibition, visit Santa and have their photo taken, make Christmas crafts, dress-up like a pixie or relax with a Christmas book,” informed the Council. Notably, public will have access to the historical display only for a short time due to increasing fragility caused by age. Pixie Town was first displayed at the Dunedin DIC department store in 1951.

A multi-ethnic extravaganza

All the above pictures of Christchurch's 70th Santa Parade are contributed by Joy Kochakkan. Please check his facebook page - JK images, to view more pictures of the Parade.