100,000 expected at classic Whangamata retro gathering

By Carly Gibbs

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Rock around the clock, slip into a poodle skirt, and cruise the streets of Whangamata this weekend with more than 1000 classic cars.

The Sony Xplod Beach Hop 2012 event, which began yesterday and runs until Sunday, is expected to draw a crowd of 100,000. The retro event started in 2001 with 4000 people, 100 cars and 100 bikes.

Now in its 12th year, Beach Hop is organised by 200 local volunteers and is New Zealand's biggest nostalgia event and celebration of Kiwi culture, says event spokesman Noddy Watts.

Cruising through Waihi, Tairua and Onemana Beach before hitting Whangamata tomorrow and Sunday, more than 100,000 people are expected during the four-day festival, a celebration of the 1950s and '60s.

Mr Watts said that after World War Two, New Zealand went through a myriad of changes with cars and fashion. "It modelled New Zealand to what it is today," he said. Next to a house, a car was often a New Zealander's most prized possession. "And when you've got a special car it becomes part of the family even more. It's your pride and joy," said Mr Watts, who owns four classic cars.

Whangamata will come alive with rock 'n' roll bands and fashion from a bygone era for the weekend. Tomorrowthere will be a retro beauty show, and people can also make a costume entirely from car parts for the Junkyard Fashion Show; or try their luck at Hop Idol, where all songs must be from the '50s or '60s.

Accommodation is chocka, and the event is set to make the town even busier than at Christmas and New Year.

New to the Beach Hop event this year will be a Coastal News Vintage Market. Vintage nostalgia ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s will be on sale with everything from decor to artwork, antiques and collectibles. The market, which started yesterday was to run today and tomorrow at the Whangamata Memorial Hall from 12pm until late.

Also at the market will be The Kustom Tattoo Rockabilly Tattoo Competition today at 4.30pm and a Bombshell Burlesque Competition tonight at 8pm.

Other vendors include California-based Graphics Express, which creates garage art, and Pennylicious, which will display vintage housewear, decor and clothing. Cosmetics, pedal cars; children's clothing; vintage hot rod car parts and more.

Entry to the market is by gold coin.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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