Santa made a spectacular entrance by helicopter at last Sunday’s Christmas in the Park, delighting the thousand or so revellers at the biennial Raglan celebration.
The jolly man in red waved and tossed lollies from the air as the nifty agricultural helicopter circled so sharply over the crowd it looked Santa might tip out and put a damper on the festive season.
But fortunately Santa was “well strapped in”, the Chronicle heard, and in fine fettle too.
“Santa’s got a good arm, watch out!” yelled local MC Dean Hishon from the stage, set up for the second year running in a far corner of Kopua Domain well protected from onshore winds by a stand of remaining trees.
Sure enough the lollies pelted down from above and kids were scrambling to get them before Santa had even landed and a Mini Moke chauffeured him to the stage where he gave his traditional ho-ho-ho greeting and threw out more sweets.
The jolly man exited soon after to a lively rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ performed on stage by a solo guitarist and large group of school children playing ukuleles.
The four-hour extravaganza kicked off across the estuary with the Raglan Pipe Band. While local schools took turns at performing early on, the show carried on until nightfall with performances by local band The Kryptonites, Prestige Dance Crew from Auckland and Late 80s Mercedes from Hamilton.
The Surfside Church event wrapped up with Christmas carols led by Late 80s Mercedes, the words illuminated on a big screen new to this year’s show.
The addition of fairground rides was also new and proved a big drawcard to families who bought tickets for everything from a mini ferris wheel and bike carousel to the chair-o-plane, giant slide and bouncy castle. A face-painting tent also attracted many littlies, while hot food and coffee were also on offer.
The estimated 1000-strong crowd – spread out over the domain’s soccer fields, many on picnic rugs or under gazebos – was “as good as we’ve had” said Surfside stalwart Norris Peart.
Norris – who’s seen Santa come and go over the years via anything from a boat and car to a parachute (twice) and a Harley Davidson – revealed Santa’s daredevil flight this year came courtesy of Te Uku local Chris Field and Rotor Work Helicopter Services from Te Kowhai.
Christmas in the Park had significant support from Waikato Scaffolding which erected the stage, SkyCity, Gallagher Trust, Creative Communities NZ and – locally – Raglan Community Board, Raglan Lions Club and MetOcean Solutions and Hong Kong Kitchen for the fireworks display.