Crowds return for festival celebrations

Alexandra Primary School's ''The Muppets celebrate 150 years'' theme during the Grand Parade at...
Alexandra Primary School's ''The Muppets celebrate 150 years'' theme during the Grand Parade at the Alexandra Blossom Festival on Saturday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

Cold winds did not affect what organisers say was one of the largest crowds ''in a long time'' during the main day of the Blossom Festival on Saturday.

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Event organiser Martin McPherson said his best guess was about 8000 people visited Pioneer Park during the Saturday in the Park event.

He thought there were between 10,000 and 12,000 people on the streets of Alexandra for the grand parade.

''From comments from other people who have been around much longer than me, it was one of the biggest crowds they have seen in a long time.''

He said the weather, although sunny, was ''disappointing'', but Central Otago people were a ''hardy bunch''.

Feedback from stall holders at Pioneer Park and the public were ''positive across the board'', Mr McPherson said.

Blossom Festival Committee chairwoman Clair Higginson said the atmosphere during the day was ''festive''.

''There were families and children everywhere, and that's what we have been trying to make for the Blossom Festival [a family event].''

Despite the cold temperature, which dropped from about 17degC at noon to about 11degC by about 3pm, a large number of people remained for the crowning of the Festival Queen and float awards.

Much to her amazement, Dunstan High School year 12 pupil Carrie Shirley (16), from the Alexandra Youth Forum's ''May the odds ever be in your favour'' float, was crowned Festival Queen.

Carrie said her week as a princess had been ''amazing'', and she had enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know the other princesses.

She would ''definitely'' consider entering a similar event again, she said.

Hermione Kemp (16), from the Alexandra Primary School float ''The Muppets celebrate 150 years'', was first runner-up, and Samantha Hughes (16), from the Central Otago WasteBusters float ''Island in the Sun'', was second runner-up.

The combined Lions club's float ''Frozen'' had the opposite effect on judges and the public, melting their hearts and taking out the best floral float and people's choice awards.

Joint float convener Barry McCall, of Clyde, said the three Lions clubs in the Alexandra and Clyde area had worked for more than 100 hours on their entry.

Its theme was taken from the children's animated film ''Frozen'', and featured characters from the film, a frozen lake, an ''ice'' stairway and castle, and snowy mountain peaks.

Mr McCall said seeing the public's reaction to the float was ''very rewarding''.

Most innovative float was won by the Alexandra Youth Forum's entry, and best contemporary float was the Central Otago White Water Club's ''Wicked Waves''.

On Saturday evening, the Alexandra Musical Society's production, All Shook Up opened. It will run until October 3.

Winds dropped and the skies stayed blue yesterday for further Blossom Festival events, including the Thunder Sunday Drag Racing at Alexandra Airport.

The festival continues until October 11, closing with the Otago Daily Times-sponsored WoolOn creative fashion event.

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