If Te Puke needed a feel-good event as the year comes to an end, the town got it with this year's Seeka Christmas Float Parade on Saturday.
The parade was organised by EPIC Te Puke and marketing manager Rebecca Larsen says all the signs were there early that it was going to be a good event.
"I think before it even kicked off, the atmosphere behind the scenes was really cheerful," she says.
"Everyone was in good spirits. I just noticed it as I was walking around. The kids were practising their singing and people were just smiling and walking around happy — so you could tell it was going to be a positive and good event — and it was, with no hiccups."
There were four entries in the education section, with all four winning prizes, the first, second and third in the category, and Fairhaven School claiming the Te Puke Jewellers trophy in taking out the Supreme Theme Award.
Te Puke Primary School won the section with a float that combined students on their bikes with a Christmas Grinch theme.
The business section was won by St Andrew's Preschool and Te Puke Scout group - with a float featuring a range of outdoor experience settings - took out the community organisation category.
John Espin won the wheelbarrow category he had created — but his plan to invent a category and be the only entrant in it to guarantee a win almost didn't go to plan.
Very late in the piece, Janine Sax from Tauranga's Bunnyton arrived with a wheelbarrow of cute rabbits that, had she managed to take her place in the parade, may well have swung the judges in her favour.
Unfortunately for her, the hoards of children wanting to pat the bunnies meant she wasn't able to get on to the parade route, and John won the trophy he had created for the category.
She and John are toying with the idea of heading to Pāpāmoa's Christmas parade at the weekend with their wheelbarrows.
"The wheelbarrow section is going to be a 'thing', and we're going to grow it so individuals will be able to join the parade," says Rebecca. "They can decorate a wheelbarrow and walk around the route. I think it's a cool feature to include and it will become a unique aspect of the parade."
Rebecca says the judges were very impressed with the entries, and the level of enthusiasm shown by the community with their floats this year.
Judge Helen Potter says it was a real pleasure being part of the judging panel.
"As a first-time judge, I enjoyed my role and it was wonderful to see all the great efforts," she says.
"The participants had put a lot into their floats, making their floats stand out, it was wonderful.
"It was heartwarming to see all the children involved and see them having so much fun.
They really played their part and shone.
"There was a huge effort made on various floats but all in all everyone put in a great effort. Judging was difficult at times."
She says she would have liked to have seen more businesses take part and also issued an invitation to different cultures and nationalities in Te Puke to think about being part of next year's parade.
Affco Rangiuru Community Organisations
1, Te Puke Scouts. 2, Te Puke Baptist Church. 3, Te Puke Toy Library
Ultimate Motor Group Education Sector
1, Te Puke Primary School. 2, Rangiuru Primary School. 3, Te Ranga School.
Zespri International Business and Commercial
1, St Andrews Pre-School. 2, Jemma Home Based Child Care. 3, Seeka Kiwifruit.
DMS Pro Growers Supreme Theme Prize: Fairhaven School.
Wheelbarrow category: John Espin.