Santa parades to keep lolly scrambles

By Melissa Hills

The annual Farmers Santa Parade in downtown Auckland. File photo / Natalie Slade
The annual Farmers Santa Parade in downtown Auckland. File photo / Natalie Slade

Parade enthusiasts have welcomed an assurance from Auckland mayor Len Brown that lolly scrambles won't be chucked out of Santa parades.

Auckland Council was criticised last week after publishing a set of guidelines which looked at banishing lolly scrambles and squirting water at the crowd at Christmas parades.

Jan Pitout, who organises the Blockhouse Bay Santa parade in Auckland, which attracts about 6000 people each year, said she was happy the mayor had spoken out to clarify the rules.

She said: "It's great the mayor has come out to clarify that no laws will be brought forward to stop this Kiwi tradition. Everyone who organises parades must look at the guidelines and make sure everything they're doing is safe.

"We don't want to see children get hurt at events like this. That would just ruin the day for everyone.

"The mayor is right to try and make clear that they're just guidelines and not rules, but all organisers should look at them before they hold their event.''

Mr Brown added he would not introduce any bylaws which would ban under fives from the parades.

Some parade organisers stipulate an age restriction. Anyone taking part in the Santa Parade in central Auckland must be at least seven-years-old.

A statement from Auckland Council says if an organiser wants to involve young children, council officers insist that risk management actions are in place; such as the ratio of adults to children, safety barriers and ensuring children are seated.

"Santa parades are fun events for the whole community," Mr Brown said. "It's a shame if there has been any misunderstanding about council's processes for putting on these events.

"I try and get along to as many as I can. These events are strongly supported by the local community and all the volunteers.

"It's a special time of year and we need to make them as fun and safe as possible, and any restrictions on a parade are generally a decision of the event organiser."

Under health and safety legislation, council officers routinely check the plan submitted by the organiser to ensure risks are isolated, minimised or eliminated.

The mayor added: "With respect to lolly scrambles, for a number of years council has advised parade organisers of the dangers in throwing lollies from moving vehicles, following incidents where children have been harmed running in front of floats. This is not a rule, although the advice is normally accepted.

"Water pistols have never been an issue and are not banned from the events. The council will work to make sure parades are safe. But we won't do it with a heavy hand. We want them to be great events for the whole family."


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