Mardi gras, fireworks 'great start'

Theo Baxter (28), of Dunedin, leads eventual individual men's winner Sam McCulloch (16), of...
Theo Baxter (28), of Dunedin, leads eventual individual men's winner Sam McCulloch (16), of Alexandra, at the start of the Round the Clock race yesterday. Photo by Leith Huffadine.

The Sticks'N Stones Zone went off at the Blossom Festival Mardi Gras in Alexandra last night.

Off-line, that is.

The anti-cyber-bullying group, run by high school pupils, was at the mardi gras for the first time this year, promoting the message of being ''on life'' rather than ''on line''.

Sticks'N Stones representative Ruby Parker (16), of Roxburgh, said the zone, comprising about 10 different activities, was ''old school fun''.

''It's just basically getting active and having a shot at simplistic games ... bringing it back. Everyone is so caught up in technology.''

About 20 pupils from the group were helping manage games, which included ''pin the heart on the bully'', a sumo agility race on an obstacle course, giant pick-up sticks, and face-painting.

The zone helped to fill a need for children's activities at the mardi gras, Ruby said.

Other events during the evening were a fire-truck-pulling competition, races on hospital beds, bike races, and the Round the Clock Race earlier in the evening.

Winner of the men's individual category, Sam McCulloch (16), of Alexandra, said he had finished second the past two years.

Finishing in 9min 2sec, he said the race, starting in the Linger and Die reserve before crossing the Manuherikia River and climbing a steep hill to the Alexandra Clock and back, was ''pretty hard''.

''The toughest bit was coming out of the water and into the run again.''

Fiona Dowling won the individual women's category, with a time of 11min 3sec.

The evening also featured a fireworks display, which event organiser Martin McPherson described as ''absolutely stunning''.

''It was spectacular. I'm absolutely rapt. A great way to start the Contact Blossom Festival.''

About 2000 people attended the mardi gras, he said.

Organisers are expecting about 10,000 people to see today's Blossom Festival events, including the grand parade, which starts at 11.45am.

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