Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday My Town Shootout "your town "dressed for Christmas".

Usually November is our annual pre Christmas Farmer's parade in Auckland. Farmers Santa Parade started in 1934. This year’s parade is the number 76th.

Parents, grand parents and children line the main streets of Auckland to watch the carnival displays of floats, music, dancing and the works. This is the main parade as there are similar smaller parades in the suburbs like Henderson. We have about 1.3 million people, about 20% of Aucklanders and hordes of tourists are at the Parade. It is summer here, and it gives a different feel to the tourists from the Northern Hemisphere. I used to take my kids, but they lost interests when they grew older, especially when they have to wait for so long in the hot sun..

1989, the year Andrew was born and died, my very good friend Gwen offered to take D and G to go with her. It was so touching of her. She said," the girls would like to go, and I know you have no mood to go."

These photos were taken in 2006, the last time Sam went to the Santa's parade. After that he said," It is boring."

The Parade Route is 2.2kms long and takes approximately 50 minutes to pass any given point. The Parade ends at approximately 3.30pm with the After Party from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. It is the biggest event in the heart of the city of Auckland.

New Zealand is famous for her Manuka honey. It is known as liquid gold. The bees were there.

Murray Ball's 'Footrot Flats' cartoon strip characters, farmer Wal and Dog, became iconic characters of life on the farm. They became popular even in Australia. It ran from 1975 until 1994 in newspapers around the world,
There were many bands that played.

When Santa came in his sleigh pulled by his reindeers, the children cheers. I grew up in a culture which did not believe in Santa. I did not tell my kids that Santa came. While the girls were born in New Zealand, they and Sam grew up as kids in Singapore. So there was no problem of ruining their fun.

This is the iconic Farmer's Santa of Auckland. We were driving down from Upper Queen Street to the Downtown of Auckland. Santa is now perched at the Whitcoulls building. He shifted from Farmer's Trading Company at Hobson street.
I was so preoccupied with taking Santa's photo that I forgot to take the photos on the Queen Street. You can see the ribbons twirling on the poles on both sides of Queen Street, our main street of CBD.

Christmas decoration is simple compared with Singapore.

Santa has reindeers by his sides, and this year, they remodeled them and didn't reveal the remake until Santa's parade.

The big man himself, a romantic story, you either love him or loathe him.

Friday My Town Shootout Dec.18th
This weeks theme is ""your town "dressed for Christmas".

The Farmer's Trading company is 100 years old this year and Santa made his debut on their big Hobson Street store in 1960. Farmers erected a giant fibreglass Santa weighing two tons (1814 kg) on the front of their building on the corner of Hobson Street and Wyndham Street in Auckland.The store sadly no longer no longer exists, it has become the Heritage Hotel. It is more 20 metres or 79 feet tall, and it's gigantic size used to frighten some children.

To the PC correctness people, Santa is a dodgy or dirty old man. He had a winking eye and a finger that beckoned people to the store. Some PC said he was a peadophile and the finger was to attract kids.

When interviewed, most grown ups remember Santa and would like him to stay.

Santa was Farmers Santa for almost 30 years. But in 1990 they put him up for sale because of the massive costs of running the ‘aged and inefficient landmark’. This was the same year Farmers turned over responsibility for its Santa Parade to the Auckland Children's Christmas Parade Trust.

After a roundabout trip to an undignified sojourn at a rigger's yard and sold for $1, Santa made a come back. Gone was the winking eye and beckoning finger. Please read below if you are interested.

The Manukau City Shopping Centre purchased the giant Santa and he graced their building for three or four years. But at some point they also found the burden of his upkeep too heavy and for another couple of years he lay disused in a rigger's yard. In 1998 a marketing and events consultant, Stephen Hanford, purchased Santa from the yard for $1. It cost about $40,000 to restore the ageing Santa. This included a paint job, removing rot from the fibreglass structure and rust from the supporting structure. Over 60 people contributed time, services or money to the project.

The restored Santa found a new home above Whitcoulls on Auckland's Queen Street, and the company took on his annual bill of $55,000. This covered liability insurance, storage, and the cost of getting him up and down each year. But in December 2008 Whitcoulls declared that they could no longer absorb the cost and gifted Santa to the city. This put the burden back on ratepayers. Auckland CBD lobby group, Heart of Auckland City, subsequently asked Aucklanders whether they wanted foot the bill for Santa. Alex Swney, the CEO of the group explained:

In December 2009 sculptor Damien Kutia, the man behind the revamped appearance of Auckland's giant Santa, put Santa's ‘dodgy winking eye' up for sale on TradeMe. It sold for $790 with a percentage of the money going to the Child Cancer Foundation.


Tammie Lee said...

I am so sorry to hear about Andrew, I had no idea.

this most certainly looks like a huge event!

aurbie said...

Wonderful photos and commentary.

I wish I had some of your weather. Brrr. It is cold here.

Take care, Hope you have been well. I will catch one day.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Hi Tammie, ( I decided to post my reply to you for the benefit of others)


Andrew was so long ago, 20 years. I often refer to him because he was part of me and also to encourage newly bereaved parents to tell them it is okay to grieve.

Some people never talk and keep everything inside them, and it is not healthy.

Ruth said...

I would attend a Christmas parade in those temperatures :-)

spiritsoflena said...

Thanks for sharing your town's christmas parade!

A Scattering said...

I love Santa but I have to agree with you Anne, that one looked a little creepy...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing about Andrew. We lost twin daughters 49 years ago at birth and they are still very much a part of us and our family. Twin angels represent their picture in our home. Nice post Ann. Blessings to you and family.

Suburban Girl said...

I just love the bees.

Jama said...

It must be fun watching those parade in the not so cold weather. Some shopping malls here are simply decorated, only those in around the orchard/city area are beautiful decorated because they take part in the Best Christmas decorative competition.

Anvilcloud said...

I guess your loss must make this time of year difficult for you. It must be difficult.

If you want to see some of our small town Santa parade on my blog click here. (Although you may have seen it already.)

Gordon said...

That is the biggest Santa I ever saw. Great job.

Pauline said...

I'm glad the remodelled Santa looks better than the original version. I can remember the first time I saw him and being horrified, he was so ugly. I took my children to Auckland for the Santa parade once when they were young and we had just the BEST time. Thanks for reviving those happy memories, Ann.

~JarieLyn~ said...

I like the farmer's santa in the parade. Great post Ann.

NanU said...

What a wonderful post, Ann.
Your parade reminds me a lot of the Rose Parade in Los Angeles, which is The Event of New Year's morning (before the football games begin, of course!) in southern California. Miles of parade course. Thousands of participants, many times that in viewers. We used to watch it every year, until it became Boring.
Rest in Peace, angel Andrew.

Reader Wil said...

Interesting to read about the Santa tradition, which I didn't know either. I didn't grow up in that tradition. Nowadays we'll see more and more both Santa and St Nicholas side by side.
My daughter and family are in Australia, but they will come visiting in May for a couple of weeks. At least I hope they will be able to make it.

wenn said...

wow..such big santa clause..

Unknown said...

Hi Ann,
I didn't know of Andrew either..thank you for sharing this part of you. {{{hugs}}}.
I totally enjoyed not only the pictures but the lovely story!! Thank you and have a wonderful Christmas hon, Sarah

GingerV said...

Ann, this is my second attempt at posting a comment - internet crash cleared the other....
as usual, your story shared of town and family is really interesting, well written - great.
I got your note yesterday and no I didn't know about this story, but am not surprised.

have a great holiday season, Ginger V

Cheryl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post of your beautiful town's Christmas parade and decorations. I think that is the biggest Santa I have ever seen! Its so fun to read of other countries traditions. I would certainly enjoy being there watching the parade, as it is in the teens here today....brrr!

Unknown said...

I think simple decorations are the best. It's difficult to imagine a Christmas parade in warm weather. It's difficult to get our heads around the north/south difference. The honey bees were too cute! Sending hugs and love for the part about Andrew. Thank you for sharing these pictures and your interesting story.

Happy Holidays, from Barry and Linda with love.

Chef E said...


We are together hand in hand :) I was just watching Christmas movies and I cry, maybe I should not watch, but I cannot shelter myself, and allow myself to grieve...

Sad about Santa, but that is an absorbent cost...his story is an interesting one, and I love how you share this stuff! Love you, hugs

Dave said...

Ann, I am disgusted at the way people think these days. When I was a kid Santa was a big thing and lots of excitement and fun. These days people have to find stupid reasonds to make Santa seem suspicious and bad. They must be sick in their heads to spoil children's joy and fun. - Dave

Bagman and Butler said...

Photos were great and the storyline you wove around them was even better. I really enjoyed all of it even though I didn't get to it until Saturday.

Sara Diana said...

Great photos, I like the giant santa x

Ellenhopes said...

Love the parade! Great pics! Hope's first one is on Saturday. How old is Sam now?