Tents a portal to old world at Gatsby Picnic

By Victoria White

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Bran Milne-Rodrigues sits with Jill of Aotearoa and is fanned by Eddie Lorrigan, in their "Alice from Wonderland Goes to India" tent at the Gatsby Picnic. Photo / Warren Buckland
Bran Milne-Rodrigues sits with Jill of Aotearoa and is fanned by Eddie Lorrigan, in their "Alice from Wonderland Goes to India" tent at the Gatsby Picnic. Photo / Warren Buckland

With tents, tea sets, and a lot of creativity, Marine Parade was transformed for the annual Gatsby Picnic on Sunday.

Across the lower lawn and beachfront, some people sought shade by lounging under a single umbrella while others relaxed in intricately detailed themed tents.

These ranged from elegant high teas to the Hydrangea Palace and Grand Prix Pit Stop.

Thousands of people strolled among the tents, appreciating their detail and revelling in the sunshine.

The Team Tiger Home Guard tent was awarded the grand prize, receiving a year's worth of Dilmah tea.

Their tent was a recreation of war-time barracks with authentic memorabilia - including vintage bikes, motorcycles and a makeshift shower. With a piano out the front, passersby were handed song sheets and invited to join the team in their renditions of war-time songs.

Richard Niven said they had been very surprised to win.

"We're not elegant - we just like to have fun and we always try bring people in."

He said the team did a different theme each year, but the focus was always on getting people involved.

Art Deco Trust manager Sally Jackson said it was obvious Team Tiger had put a lot of effort into their stand-out tent.

"They were involving participants as they walked past ... that active involvement meant a lot to the judges because they felt it showed a good representation of the event ethos."

Some people had been setting up since 6am, like the De Vos, Alizzi and Kerr families.

At their beachfront "Old School Days" tent, their 12 children wore vintage clothing and sat at authentic desks under the watchful eyes of their respective parents - who were dressed as a nun, headmaster, and teachers.

Sarah De Vos said the children had been "absolutely loving it", and she was amazed by the number of people stopping to look at their tent.

Up on the lawn, a group of men in bespoke cricket jackets relaxed in their tent themed as the Lord's Cricket Ground changing room.

Only a metre away, but under a separate tent, their wives wore white, snacked on cakes and sipped tea.

Robyn Vettori said the theme had been the group's idea, and they had all been working on it over the past year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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