A grandson of Bing Crosby is set to be a star attraction among more than 300 events during the 2020 Napier Art Deco Festival.
The confirmation of Phil Crosby Jr - The Golden Age of Hollywood — direct from Los Angeles to the Napier Municipal Theatre — came last night as plans for the 32nd annual Art Deco Week celebration on February 19-23 were unveiled.
While Crosby Jr has wowed clubs in the US with his Golden Age All Stars, he will come to Napier for what new Art Deco Festival director Greg Howie says will be a production designed exclusively for the festival.
In a three-hour show on the festival Friday night of February 21, the renowned jazz crooner and recording artist, who it is thought will be on his first New Zealand trip, will be supported by the Wellington-based High Society Show Band, lead by the versatile Nicole Chesterman, slotting as easily into jazz as she did into such past roles as being a member of Pink Floyd Experience.
Bing Crosby died 43 years ago - he was at his peak from 1931 through to the late 1950s, the early stage of which threw-up much of the period architecture so central to Napier's Art Deco image.
"It's a new age for the festival as we enter the decade of the reminiscent 20s, a hundred years on from the era itself," said Howie, in the job less than two months and running the festival for the first time.
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He was a Lindisfarne College pupil, aged about 14, when he first experienced the festival less than 20 years ago, coming to Napier from Havelock North to watch the Saturday afternoon vintage cars and parade. He has in recent years become the proper Deco-goer, including last year when Jacinda Ardern rode in the parade in a 1918 Packard V12.
Howie, who includes the Horse of the Year Show, the New Zealand Open Golf Championship and Hawke's Bay Racing on his CV, was more than enthusiastic about the next challenge, saying: "We have exciting new events on offer, and we are ready to take the festival to the next level."
Among those attractions will be the return of a Mainline Steams locomotive after an absence about five years, with rides between Napier-Hastings and Otane, and the introduction of a new garden bar along the seafront and the Sunday-afternoon Mission Lawn Garden Party on the beachfront.
That party will pay its dues in a new sponsorship arrangement with Mission Estate Winery, which has an unprecedented three major concerts on-site less than three weeks beforehand.
Garth Cowie, the Art Deco Trust's new general manager, after 19 years at the Port of Napier, and trust chairman Michael Fowler, both spoke at the launch at the old Daily Telegraph building.
Howie reckoned the Crosby concert would be an early sellout, but so too would be accommodation, which he has already found difficult to find for visiting performers, including those in the wide array of free events.
But there should be some relief, with new upmarket accommodation expected to have added at least 50 rooms to the market.
Two new operators are expected to be open in time for the February rush, with new owners reopening the Mon Logis site on Marine Parade and the Double Tree by Hilton chain arriving in town to refurbish the four-storey former PwC Building on the corner of Munroe and Raffles Sts.