Big man brings sunshine to parade

Stirling brothers Brendon (front) and Mark Storer roll out the big guns for Saturday’s Clutha...
Stirling brothers Brendon (front) and Mark Storer roll out the big guns for Saturday’s Clutha Country Santa Parade in Balclutha. Photos: Richard Davison
A dose of seasonal good cheer helped dispel memories of recent flooding in South Otago on Saturday.

Following some of the most severe flooding in 20 years in Balclutha late last month, Santa brought the perfect sunshine tonic with him to his annual parade and street market in the town.

Nearly 40 floats, decorated by local schools, businesses and community groups, had a large crowd cheering and applauding as the procession made its way along Balclutha’s Clyde St at Saturday lunchtime.

Winning float this year was the St Joseph’s School entry, which had a traditional nativity scene theme, including an unusual abundance of shepherds and angels.

Also highly commended was the Clutha Filipino Society’s entry, complete with leading cycle taxi and a troupe performing a traditional Ati-Atihan festival dance.

Society spokeswoman Maria Hill said the Ati-Atihan festival was usually held just after New Year in the Philippines, and marked the birth of the baby Jesus.

"It’s a joyful festival where we all celebrate together. And very colourful, as you can see. We’ve enjoyed sharing it with our friends in South Otago today."

Convening the parade for the first time this year was Jo-anne Thomson.She said although it was not the hottest parade she had attended, it was close.

"The sunshine always brings the people out, for sure, so we’ve been very pleased with the way everything’s come together today. I think it’s given people a chance to let their hair down after recent events."

Mrs Thomson paid tribute to the hard work of parade volunteers.

"We’re a new team this year, so it’s been great to see people step up and help keep this important community event alive.

"The children are always excited to see Santa Claus. That’s what makes it special."

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