Huge crowds lined Auckland's Queen St today to watch the Farmers Christmas Parade pass underneath the giant Santa sculpture for the last time.

The parade has been running since 1934 and today was the last parade to walk past the iconic 60–year-old, 18-metre Santa sculpture, who is set to be retired this Christmas.

The annual Farmers Christmas Parade passes underneath the giant Santa sculpture for the last time. Photo/ Daniel Brunskill
The annual Farmers Christmas Parade passes underneath the giant Santa sculpture for the last time. Photo/ Daniel Brunskill

Tens of thousands of people attend the parade each year which features 3500 participants and performers and behind the scene volunteers.

Today featured a wide array of family entertainment stars, from Suzy Cato leading the parade in a bright yellow convertible, to Storm Troopers and Disney princesses.

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Kiwi TV icon Suzy Cato leads the 86th annual Farmers Christmas Parade.
Kiwi TV icon Suzy Cato leads the 86th annual Farmers Christmas Parade.

Giant inflatable versions of Disney characters Mickey, Minnie and Donald floated down Queen St to the sound of a series of marching bands.

The performance which drew the most applause, almost outperforming Santa himself, was a young girl playing the violin while riding a unicycle in circles.

A unicycling violinist wows the crowd. Photo / Daniel Brunskill
A unicycling violinist wows the crowd. Photo / Daniel Brunskill

Newly re-elected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff walked in the parade alongside Howick councillor Paul Young.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Howick Councillor Paul Young. Photo / Daniel Brunskill
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Howick Councillor Paul Young. Photo / Daniel Brunskill

Goff intervened to save the parade earlier this year when Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) announced it would stop funding the parade, leaving the event $45,000 short.

After receiving criticism from the mayor and Councillor Cathy Casey, ATEED backed down and agreed to fund the parade.

"ATEED's initial call was the wrong one. I'm pleased that the right decision has now been made so that our kids can continue to enjoy the excitement of seeing Santa in the city," Goff said in March.

Crowds of people packed Auckland's Queen St to catch a glimpse of Santa. Photo / Daniel Brunskill
Crowds of people packed Auckland's Queen St to catch a glimpse of Santa. Photo / Daniel Brunskill

Casey said, "[The parade] has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders for the last 80 years and I am pleased that its future has been secured."

The parade features 3500 participants, performers and volunteers. Photo / Daniel Brunskill
The parade features 3500 participants, performers and volunteers. Photo / Daniel Brunskill

The tens of thousands of Aucklanders who packed shoulder-to-shoulder across a kilometre of the CBD to watch the parade likely agree.

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