Art Deco weekend a swinging success


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The 25th Geon Art Deco Weekend has been hailed a great success.

"We expected 20,000 - 25,000 people but we have drawn 30,000," Art Deco Trust manager Sally Jackson said.

"We are just blown away with the crowds and atmosphere - it seems to get better and better each year - and this year there were so many younger people involved."

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the fact that so many young people attended, "bodes well for the longevity of the event".


"It was an amazingly successful art deco weekend yet again."

She said the event "most definitely" helped make Hawke's Bay a tourist destination.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott was last night ecstatic at the success of the weekend. She was hosting guests who arrived from Canada on Friday and said they typified the way in which visitors had been "taken by the whole Art Deco thing:"

"They arrived and walked straight into this weekend of fun and people." she said. "They've been simply overawed by it all."

The weather also played its part with blue skies and sunshine on Saturday and warm conditions on Sunday.

The highlight of the weekend was Saturday's big Geon Art Deco military charter parade through central Napier. Organisers say it was one of the largest parades ever staged and the crowd of thousands was up to six deep in places along the route. New Zealand Army infantry soldiers marched to tunes by the Army band, while more than 20 vintage booming Bentleys, brought over to New Zealand and the Art Deco Weekend from the UK by their owners, joined in the parade. Many people dressed up in period costume and the city was awash with style and fashion.

No major incidents were reported at the weekend, although St John reported several people fainted, with the worst injury a dislocated finger suffered by a cruise ship passenger.

Pat and Clare Reinhardt from Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland, have been coming to Art Deco Weekend for nine years.

"We have seen it grow - it is getting much bigger."

The growth had been well managed through more events and the weekend starting earlier, she said.

"It is a lot of fun and everyone is so friendly - they all have a smile on their face.

"We were talking to some Canadian people and they couldn't get over the fact that there was no security.

"They didn't know it was on and stayed an extra three days.

"It gives you a perspective on your own country.

Yesterday's Gatsby Picnic was one of the most popular of the more than 200 events.

Marine Parade was closed to traffic as themed marquees provided lunch during an acrobatic air show.

The winner of the marquee competition was an Auckland group with a display the judges described as "opulent, original and very lush".

The group of friends often brought a trailer but this year it was not an option - their marquee featured a water fountain.

Visiting from Wellington was Tye Husheer, in a cricket-themed marquee with its own wicket. Naval officers from HMS Rotoiti accepted the challenge to a game.

One of the cricketers was Tye Husheer, great grandson of Gerhard Husheer, the founder of the National Tobacco Company in Ahuriri.

Mr Husheer said his family had "very close connections to Art Deco Weekend" and visited every year.

Many visitors were from overseas, such as traditional Jazz banjoist Peter Wimpenny and wife Daphne from Warwick in England.

"We came six years ago and we've come again because we enjoyed it so much," she said.

But like the Husheers their links are deeper.

Their late friend Isabel moved to Napier after befriending Mrs Wimpenny's parents while an evacuee during WW2.

"She worked in the Art Deco shop - she was a real fan who dressed up every year," Mrs Wimpenny said.

"Her husband Stan McAllister is in the Masonic home so we visited him there yesterday and Pete played the banjo for him."

The departed were also remembered in a Navy ceremony at the Veronica Sun Bay on Marine Parade. HMS Veronica was moored at Napier at the time of the 1931 earthquake. Her crew immediately joined the rescue effort in the shattered city.

The Veronica bell was sounded, with the only other sound a WW2 plane overhead.

"The people of Napier embrace this part of their history - it's not just about dress ups, that's for sure," Mrs Arnott said.

Nearly 800 people packed in to St John's Cathedral last night for the annual Art Deco Weekend service, which also commemorated the 1931 earthquake. Guest speakers were historian and Hawke's Bay Today columnist Michael Fowler and Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Mark Story, who spoke about media coverage of the 1931 earthquake and modern day coverage of earthquakes respectively. The Navy band also performed.


Additional reporting: Doug Laing

- Hawkes Bay Today

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