Parade marks departure of soldiers

Thousands of Dunedin people will march in the footsteps of their forefathers, as the city gears up for the first major World War 1 centenary event in September.

In the first significant event for the people of Otago and Southland after the declaration of war on August 4, 1914, 1700 troops left Dunedin Railway Station on September 22 on their way to Port Chalmers to board a troop ship bound for Europe.

The men, 1100 of whom were in the Otago Infantry Regiment, with a further 600 in the Otago Mounted Rifles, had camped at Tahuna Park and Forbury Park for six weeks of training.

More than a year of intense planning will come to fruition when the centenary of Embarkation Day is commemorated on September 28 with a series of events based around a parade from the Oval to the Railway Station at 11am.

Chair of the embarkation commemoration committee Prof John Broughton said the parade was the city's major World War 1 centenary event for this year.

The embarkations were ''hugely important'' occasions, with many involving parades and bands, and drew large crowds, Prof Broughton said.

''Our commemoration will also be a huge event - the parade will be led by brass and pipe bands and will include vintage vehicles, horse-drawn vehicles and people in historic dress,'' he said.

''The public will be welcome to take part, perhaps carrying photographs or medals, or can simply be there as spectators.''

The parade will be followed by an Edwardian market in the area next to Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, with stallholders asked to dress up and sell antiques and crafts with an Edwardian period theme.

The day's events will start with a memorial run from Tahuna Park to the Oval at 9.30am, and schools, sports clubs, community organisations and workplaces are all welcome to take part.

''We are making this a whole family day, so we want everyone to come along and take part,'' Prof Broughton said.

An embarkation commemoration service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral on September 21.

The Dunedin City Council's World War 100 committee, chaired by Mayor Dave Cull, is planning a city-wide event for each of the next four years. Future events will include the centenaries of Anzac Day in April 2015, the second battle of the Somme in 2016, and Passchendaele in 2017.

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