Photos: Everyone loves an Olympic parade

By Julia Proverbs

Boom sticks boomed, the crowd cheered and confetti rained down on the Bay's Olympians as they were given a hero's welcome home.

Riding atop three shiny Mustang convertibles as they cruised down Devonport Rd yesterday were Tauranga's sailing silver medallist Peter Burling and crewmate Blair Tuke, kayaker Luuka Jones, sailor Andrew Murdoch, BMX rider Kurt Pickard and sailor Jason Saunders, with his crewmate Paul Snow-Hansen.

Hundreds of supporters, young and old, lined both sides of the street to applaud their Olympic efforts.

Schoolchildren seeking autographs, squealed excitedly, and retailers stood in shop doorways as the ticker-tape parade made its way down the street, culminating at the Edgewater Fan.

Connor Knowles, 3, was there with his mum Claire, 29, and sister, Ruby, 9 months, to see the "necklaces".

He achieved his own sporting first during the Olympics, having learnt to do a forward roll.

However, it was the diving that captured his attention, something he said he wanted to do "when I'm bigger".

Gwen Loasby, 88, wanted a part of the action, having missed the Magic street parade last month.

"I was yelling," she said.

She was particularly keen to catch a glimpse of Burling and was not disappointed.

I'm glad he wore his jandals," she laughed.

Omokoroa No1 School pupil Toby Lariviere, 11, wanted to see the Olympians because "they put all their effort in".

Greenpark School house captain Jahla Cooper, 11, was sporting a scrawl of signatures up her arm in black waterproof marker.

"I will be showing off to my brother," she said.

"I like all of them [the Olympians] because of how they achieved their goals."

At the Edgewater Fan, which was decorated with balloons and flags, Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said it was important to celebrate our local Olympians.

The Bay had produced some amazing sports people and they showed young people what they could achieve.

The parade was an acknowledgement of not just the Olympians but also those who had helped them on their journey, the mayor said.

Each Olympian said a few words and thanked the crowd for their support.

Jones, a former Otumoetai College student, described the parade as "incredible".

Pickard, who was introduced to BMX at the Sulphur Point track when he was 4, said it was the first parade he had been in since a primary school Christmas parade.

"It's good to see all the support we have here and it's nice to be home," he said.

Burling said it was "really special" to see how many people had turned out to show their support.

Wearing the same jandals he wore on the podium, he made no apologies when he was light-heartedly questioned about his choice of footwear.

"You rarely catch me in shoes. You've got to wear what you're comfortable in," Burling said with a smile.

Some of the Olympians who were unable to take part in the parade gave their apologies in writing.

"Thank you for this show of support from the Tauranga community, it really does mean a lot to me and I wish I could be there to celebrate with you all. Please pass on my apologies to all involved in the organisation of this event, and my congratulations to the rest of the athletes. Kia Manuia."

- Ella Nicholas

"Thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately I am up north and have meetings and a function already arranged in Auckland on Wednesday so will be unable to attend the parade. I hope it goes well and sorry I couldn't make this work as it will be a great day I am sure. Thanks."

- Mahe Drysdale

"Sorry, unfortunately I will not be able to attend. I am in France for the next week before I fly home in the weekend. It sounds like a fantastic event and will be fantastic for everyone there. Disappointed that I will miss it."

- Andy Hayward

- Bay of Plenty Times

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