Havoc at festive parade

By Court Reporter

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Kaitaia's festive season has been marred by bad behaviour but it was not Christmas Grinch who ruined the town's Santa Parade.

Organisers and spectators at last Saturday's parade were appalled by teenagers fighting, jostling smaller children and old people, pelting bystanders with paint bombs and throwing eggs at Santa.

The scuffles between groups of young people started well before the main street was closed and the parade under way.

Witnesses said teenage girls appeared to be the worst behaved, and possibly the best shots, at least one girl threw an egg that hit Santa. A woman who was at the parade said the teenagers were running amok, throwing paint and other substances in what she describes as "one step short of a riot".

Only days to go before the Kamo Christmas Parade, organisers say they have never had problem behaviour, and no Santa was ever harmed in the making of the event. Long-time helper Terry Hooper, from Kamo Hammer Hardware, said water bombs were a minor nuisance one year. Organisers asked local shops not to stock them the following year, and no one got water-bombed at the parade. "Touch wood, we've been very lucky," Mr Hooper said.

Good management as well as good luck plays a part. Kamo's Christmas Parade is heavily supported by local bowling clubs, Rotary clubs and roading companies. The fire service, the police and other community support groups play a part both in the parade and on the sideline, event manager Mel Miller said.

The parade sets off from Meldrum Rd to Kamo High School at noon on Saturday, with at least 30 floats as well as hot rods, motorbikes and other participants. Although the parade lasts about 45 minutes, the shopping centre maintains a carnival atmosphere.

Jodi Betts, spokeswoman from the Kaitaia parade's organising Avocado Trust, said many shops in town had closed their doors early, there were fewer floats than usual and a smaller crowd at last Saturday's parade.

"Some people just don't go to the parade any more because of this sort of thing. A lot of kids are missing out," Ms Betts said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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