Santa Claus drops in literally

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It may have been a sign of things to come as Santa Claus arrived at Anderson Park in Napier on Saturday night for one of his biggest audiences in Hawke's Bay in years.

The red-suited one was lowered onto the stage by a crane for the briefest of appearances in front of a crowd estimated to have topped 20,000 during the six hours of the Cox Partners Christmas at the Park.

From where he had come, and where he was going, wasn't too clear but as radio hosts and show presenters Martin Good and Sarah van der Kley welcomed him aboard and bade him farewell in just a flash, it was an indication of how life and times have changed over the years.

He clearly had too many other commitments to hang around too long, and it was obvious some initiative was required to get him there on time. With so many people, and so much traffic, he would never have found anywhere to park the reindeer and sleigh.

It may have also given an idea or two for parents and children worried about how Santa comes and goes on the big night, given the uncertain future of the chimney as a range of new compliance issues govern the fireplaces and flues in our homes.

Many of the huge crowd were at the park for the duration, about 4pm to 10pm, listening to music, including an hour-long set by long-surviving Hamilton group Late 80's Mercedes.

There was also a range of activities for children, including a play area with an obstacle course, the hardest part of which was navigating the long queue as youngsters awaited their turns.

While many people had come from Hastings, Havelock North and further afield, Hastings staged another welcome to Santa last night at Cornwall Park.

Police reported few problems, although organiser David Trim said a youth, thought to be aged just 14, had to be removed after arriving in an intoxicated state.

There was, however, the novelty of a moment after dark, as an officer looked for a lost constable, who in turn was apparently looking for a lost child - her own, age undisclosed.

The event, hosted by Kaisen Charitable Trust, cost about $85,000 to stage, with the crowd sprawled within 1.5km of specialised fencing owned by the Trust.

Multi-purposed, the fencing also kept the crowd away from the detonation area for a seven-minute fireworks display, choreographed to a nativity theme with narration developed by Taradale woman Carolyn Payton.



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