The organisers of Kaitaia's Christmas Carnival began smiling again on Saturday afternoon, once it became clear that the family event staged in place of the traditional Christmas parade through the main street was going to be a success.
A week or two earlier it had looked as though the carnival would be all over before it started, thanks to a severe lack of funding, even though every effort had been made to pare costs to a minimum, but Te Hiku Community Board and the Far North District Council came to the party, and the show very much went on.
"And I am delighted to say it was a success," Far North Avocado Festival Trust chairperson Shirley Williams said.
"There were lots of people, particularly mums and dads with their kids and grandparents with grandchildren, everyone seemed to have enough to see, do and eat, and even the sun shown down on us."
The best features of the afternoon, according to many who Shirley spoke to, were that it hadn't cost anything to get into the showgrounds, and once inside, the children's activities were free.
"Perhaps it could have been better in some ways, but this has given us something to build on," she added.
"We might look at bringing the parade back, around the oval perhaps, but I don't think we'll see it in the main street again."
It was the behaviour of some young people, initially children who were so enthusiastic about picking up free sweets that they risked life and limb to harvest them, then last year teenagers who ran amok with 'silly string,' spoiling for many what was supposed to have been a family day.
The silly string was there again on Saturday, but those entertaining themselves with it were banished to a back paddock, while the people who were selling it were given equally short shrift.
Those who were busy making their living in the main street were happy too, Shirley said, telling her that they had had "a good, normal Saturday."
"Santa and Plunket (who catered to his every wish) were happy too," she added.
"All in all, it was a lovely day - a great way to start the Christmas season."
Meanwhile, St John, one of many community organisations that took part, offered youngsters with a ghoulish streak a very different attraction in the form of 'gruesome scars' in exchange for koha (which will help cover the cadets' next camp).
Rebekah Duncan was doing a roaring trade, adding that learning how to make fake wounds was part of one of the badges cadets aspire to.
"It's really cool," she said.
Santa's grotto was predictably popular, children lining up all afternoon to have their photo taken with him after he made his grand entrance aboard a fire engine complete with lights and sirens, while Riding for the Disabled's pony rides and the bouncy castles also did brisk business.