Fun, fitness and friendship was very much in evidence at the Ruahine Ramblerz leisure marching team's Christmas display day at the Dannevirke Sports Centre on Saturday.
Sixteen teams from throughout the lower North Island joined the Ramblerz to take part not only in the display day but also the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce Mitre 10 Christmas parade.
The marching teams gathered at the Sports Centre for a run through to familiarise themselves with the area they were to march in before the parade.
As an added drawcard for teams to take part in the display day the Ruahine Ramblerz had arranged for Department of Internal Affairs community advisor Maggie Regan to speak at a meeting of delegates on the funding that is available to them.
Ramblerz coach and leader Elaine Lawson said this was well attended by team delegates.
"We even had a woman who wanted to form a team in the Wellington area attend the meeting."
Following the parade the marching teams returned to the Sports Centre for a march-past of 170 marchers.
This was followed by the official opening when Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis, Regan, and guests Dannevirke Services and Citizens Club manager Peter Shaw and partner Deidre Thomas were welcomed to the event.
Collis said she had attended all four annual displays and she was privileged to take the salute each year.
She was grateful for all the teams who supported the town and the parade.
"The town really appreciates you taking part in our parade. The Ruahine Ramblerz are a household name in our town, as I hope you all are in your home towns."
The teams then performed their individual displays.
Each team was applauded throughout their display which was carried out to music ranging from traditional marching tunes to more modern arrangements.
Keeping an eye on the Ruahine Ramblerz' performance was former marcher Robyn Bradley, who now lives in Palmerston North.
She said the Ramblerz had improved tremendously in the last 12 months.
Bradley marched with Ramblerz president Pam Bassett in the 1950s in the Kiwis of Woodville marching team.
The afternoon ended with a maze march in which the teams tried to follow the Ruahine Ramblerz' lead. They were joined by the mayor and Shaw.
Leisure marching is non-competitive and there were no rules, apart from the time limit on a display and the number of marchers in a team, which can range from a minimum of three or four to a maximum of 24.
It's an activity that attracts a wide age group: marchers range in age from their 40s through to their 80s.
Ruahine Ramblerz formed 27 years ago and some of the current team were original members, but others had never marched before.
Lawson said it had been an amazing day and she was thrilled at how well it had gone, but much of that was down to community support.
"We have amazing support from the community and it's the envy of other teams."
She said there had been plenty of feedback on Facebook as photographs from the display day were posted there.
"We've had comments from right throughout New Zealand. For the out of town teams, being able to take part in the Christmas parade was a real drawcard."