Thousands of delighted children and adults lined the streets on Saturday for Hastings' annual springtime affair, the Blossom Parade.

Arts Inc Heretaunga manager Pitsch Leiser said there were 61 entries for the parade, 10 more than last year, and an incredible turnout from the community.

"What was really heartening was the amount of people that turned out, it was certainly the biggest parade I've ever seen."

He said people often commented on the cultural diversity reflected in the annual parade and this year was not different.


"It's probably the only event each year that truly reflects our ethnic and social diversity. We see a lot of different groups participating in their own cultural context and that's the real interesting thing.

"People don't get a chance on a day-to-day basis to really get a handle on the make up of our community."

Among the communities represented on Saturday were Sri Lanka and the Philippines, as well as Pacific and Maori.

Mr Leiser said the sheer number of entries and spectators was proof that locals still loved the event, which has been running since the 1950s.

"I walked the whole way and there was an amazing amount of people. All smiling, happy faces so in that sense it was really beautiful to see. It's a hugely important thing to do and it's free!"

This year the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market won Best Use of Natural Flowers while the Wesley Samoan Methodist Church Youth Group won Best Use of Artificial Flowers.

The Best Dressed Individual or Group was the New Zealand Armed Constabulary FRS and Te Kura o Mangateretere and Falun Dafa won Best School and Best Community respectively.

The Hastings District Council won Best Business, The Drama Workshop won People's Choice and Fringe in the Stings won Best Humour or Most Unusual entry.

Mr Leiser said the Blossom Parade was unique in that it had endured for decades, and had changed considerably since its inception.

'We've got something here that is probably one of the few parades left in the country of this scale but we live in different times now, people have less time and that big group activity is harder to create and people don't have the space any more.

"The real hope is that we can develop this parade into something that is relevant to today and I strongly feel that it's probably leaning towards getting more artists, musicians and a younger generation involved."

He said something of the past that he wished to encourage was more competition between the entries to make the parade "more colourful and representative" of the community.

"I'd love to put out a challenge to community groups to continue to see this as not just a team- and community-building exercise but an opportunity to really showcase the diversity of our wider Hastings community and the special groups that we have here."