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Bustles and corsets were prominent yesterday as Oamaru stepped back in time to welcome in its annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
The town's normally sedate Victorian precinct was awash with flowing dresses, top hats, walking canes and waxed moustaches, as visitors and locals alike embraced the Dickensian costume theme of this year's celebrations.
Early morning shoppers in Oamaru's Thames St rubbed shoulders with costume-wearing couples as the traditional cafe promenade stroll launched a host of events, including four hours of traditional Victorian parlour games at the Early Settlers Hall, and a rollicking soap-box debate outside Annie's Victorian Tearooms.
Prizes were also on offer to local businesses for the best Victorian-themed window display, before the day's events culminated in an evening ball.
Nelson residents Margaret McQueen and Stanley Abernathy were two of many out-of-town visitors, and said they had made the trip especially for the Grand Ball at the Scottish Hall.
Ms McQueen said the attraction of Victorian ball gowns and military suits was too much to resist and made the trip from Nelson worthwhile.
Tourism Waitaki events development officer Jan Kennedy said the celebrations, which continue today with a Grand Street Parade and penny farthing bicycle races, had got off to a great start.
"The Victorian Heritage committee must be congratulated for putting together such an extensive programme of events for the heritage celebrations.
"The Grand Ball, Crombie and Price Victorian Garden Party, Heritage Rugby Match along with Sunday's Victorian Fete are just some of the traditional highlights, with new events in 2012 themed around Charles Dickens."
Celebrations conclude on Sunday with the traditional Victorian Fete, which was predicted to attract 2000 people just on its own, Mrs Kennedy said.