Masters to get Whanganui buzzing

By Simon Waters

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The games torch burns brightly in the village main tent in 2015. The village moves out of the tent to the War Memorial Hall this year.
The games torch burns brightly in the village main tent in 2015. The village moves out of the tent to the War Memorial Hall this year.

Whanganui could be the place to be next month. Town will buzz with a festive party atmosphere for 10 fun-filled days.

At least that's the hope of New Zealand Master's Games chief executive Kathy Cunningham who aims to include the community as well as participants as much as possible this year.

She revealed details of a new games village venue and of the opening ceremony yesterday.

Notable is a new venue for the games village, previously sited in a tent at Springvale Park, but this year based at the War Memorial Hall.

Visiting food trucks will set up around the forecourt area and stay for the full 10 days of the tournament and will be accessible to the public as well as competitors.

Ms Cunningham said the decision to move into town was based on responses from previous competititors who in post-games surveys overwhelmingly asked to move from a tent.

"The Memorial Centre is large enough, central and we thought wow what a perfect venue," Ms Cunningham said.

"It will allow the community to participate, the retailers, Mainstreet, hospitality - Whanganui will feel so much more vibrant."

It would also provide a better experience for visitors, she said.

"Town will be buzzing with a festive party atmosphere."

Access to the nightly entertainment "beer, wine, food, great bands", will remain restricted to participants, but the public can still join in by purchasing a $35 supporter's pass which covers the full 10 days. "We are trying to make it as inclusive as possible."

During the day the public will be able to watch various dance sports in the Memorial Hall which Ms Cunningham said had the largest sprung-formed floor in the southern hemisphere.

"At night when we are all bopping it will seem like we are all dancing really well," she laughed.

The opening ceremony will start at Cooks Gardens at 6pm Friday. Ms Cunningham said she was hoping that all 50-plus sports would bring at least 20 participants each to the ceremony which would make for quite a spectacle she said.

After a few "very short" speeches there will be entertainment and a Royal New Zealand Air Force flyover. Ms Cunningham said the air force had confirmed its availability but she was waiting on details about "how many, how low and how loud."

Bag-pipes, a conch, and a trumpet will sound the signal to march to the War Memorial centre for more festivities. A brass band will join in along the way and the public is encouraged to march along with participants.

The Games begin on Friday February 3 and end Sunday February 12.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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