Quirky convoy off to quake city

Big-hearted supporters drive to assist kids and comfort Cantabrians, writes Paul Charman

The zany vehicles are on a serious mission.Pictures / Supplied
The zany vehicles are on a serious mission.Pictures / Supplied

The Variety Bash is on again this weekend. It's the annual charity event in which big-hearted motoring enthusiasts don clown suits and other outlandish gear to raise funds for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.

The usual convoy of zany vehicles will begin its journey at the Chateau Tongariro and wend its way to Wellington. The Bash crosses to the South Island, to spend five days taking in Picton, Hanmer Springs, Kaiapoi, Christchurch, Akaroa and Kaikoura.

"We are visiting Christchurch again to support our Cantabrian friends who are still feeling the effects of the 2011 quake," says Variety Bash project manager Joe Flynn.

"We're pleased to be able to present grants to local children, families and communities, and also lend a hand by getting involved in a couple of community projects."

At the heart of this exciting event are the quirky vehicles taking part.

Owned by people from all walks of life, these have have been lovingly restored, decorated and worked on for months. Some of them are hand-me-downs - cars and trucks which took part in previous Variety Bash events before being passed on to Variety Bash on the road again new crews.

Watch out for the fire trucks this year including "Every Little Boy's Dream", a 1965 Commer fire engine complete with barbecue, soft drink bar, 1000 watts of sound and an effigy of "Jeff da Maori", from bro'Town. A sister fire appliance - the 1969 Ford called "The Recyclers" - has a crew led by Murray Creighton, who this year celebrates his 16th Bash.

Typical of those taking part, the "Pink Truck'N' Crew", led by Andrew and Mel Sworn has fundraised all year through splitting, bagging and selling firewood, and selling sausages, American hotdogs and canned drinks at every opportunity. These folk from Northland ride in a 1981 International Acco fire truck.

V8 fanciers should keep an eye out for "Naki Girlz" Carmel Graham, Chantel Williams and Sharee Hamilton, relative newcomers to the event who will be driving a 1964 Ford Fairlane. Heat coming out of this Ford's engine compartment during stops is said to be sufficient to cook with.

"Mooloo Croo" ride in a 1971 D Series Ford V8, specially pimped in Big Dawg's Garage. "It's awesome to raise money with like-minded people for disadvantaged and disabled children," says croo member Christian Bilby.

"GT Limo" is a 1993 Ford Falcon stretched-limousine, which apparently boasts a large spa pool, and "The Veggie Bus" crew claim the propellers on their machine make it capable of Warp Speed. But it's more likely "The Veggie Bus" will be blowing bubbles with its bubble machine than streaking across the sky.

Members of the public have been entertained over the years, albeit fleetingly, as the colourful pageantry of the Variety Bash toots and honks its way through our towns. But let's remember that, with the recession biting, the plight of families with disadvantaged children is likely to be worse than our own.

Keep some gold coins in your pocket to toss into the "bucket shake". If the Bash is travelling too fast as it honks its way past you, or if you don't see it personally, just visit www.variety.org.nz.

- NZ Herald

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