City readies for annual Santa Parade

Jacob Smeaton (4), of Dunedin, investigates the Christmas tree in the lower Octagon yesterday....
Jacob Smeaton (4), of Dunedin, investigates the Christmas tree in the lower Octagon yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

The tinsel is coming to town.

Dunedin is gearing up for the festive season, with the traditional Christmas tree installed in the lower Octagon yesterday.

The 10.5m Christmas tree is the tallest in the South Island and will be laden with 20 boxes of decorations and then topped off with 20,000 Christmas lights.

The lights will be switched on for the first time between 8pm and 9pm on Saturday, accompanied by choral singing by Elmgrove School pupils and the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa.

On Sunday, the annual Dunedin Santa Parade will weave its magic through town in a procession of 80 colourful floats.

Parade trust chairman Dean Driver said he hoped many thousands of people would line George St for the parade, which would start at the BP service station in George St at 3pm and head to the Octagon.

"It just continues to get bigger and bigger. There were well over 40,000 last year and, with two cruise ships in town, we're expecting this will be the biggest parade we've had yet," he said yesterday.

The Voyager of the Seas cruise ship will be in Port Chalmers on Saturday.

Buses used to ferry the cruise-ship passengers will relocate to Cumberland St, outside Countdown, for the day.

"Hopefully, some of the cruise-ship passengers will stick around for a while and enjoy the parade," Dunedin City Council community events co-ordinator Marilyn Anderson said yesterday.

"For a short time, the parade attracts the biggest crowd we get for a community event in Dunedin. We've got all the street garlands going up this week ready for the weekend."

The last float of the Santa Parade will feature the Oxo Cubans, who will park their float in the Octagon carriageway and put on a Christmas concert.

Any postponement will be broadcast on Classic Hits 89.4 and More FM 97.4.

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