The notion that Napier is the little art deco city that could was looking pretty good as arrivals started to swing in the city on Friday despite the cancellation of the festival they had come to see.
Couples from such places as Whangaparaoa (north of Auckland), Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch were out on what would have been day three of what was to have been a five-day Art Deco Festival.
It was missing the Friday throng, perhaps best resembling the lead-in to Art Deco Weekend as it was when the phenomena kicked-off 32 years ago.
The major difference was essentially … No cruise liners. Two years ago, the Radiance of the Seas with over 3000 passengers, was in port on the Saturday, the eighth cruise liner to call at Napier in a week.
Many were among a record-breaking crowd estimated at well over 25,000 cramming the Napier CBD to watch Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pass by in the Art Deco Parade, which has now become a casualty of coronaviral uncertainty with new Art Deco Trust chairwoman Barbara Arnott's announcement that with level 2 alert partial lockdown in place at the time, the festival was off.
All events scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday were cancelled, including the opening ceremony. There'll be no sign of the Warbirds' Harvards, whose plans were in any event up in the air because of travel limitations of the higher alerts in the Auckland area.
Where the festival marquee would have been on the Marine Parade "lower lawn" is a greenery starting to beckon the lawnmower again, after some midweek rain.
But dozens of what the Art Deco Trust calls "independent" events are still on, some remaining "sold out".
Among those in Emerson St were Whangaparoa couple Pat and Clare Reinhardt, doing what they've done every Art Deco Weekend for 18 years, strolling the inner city in the gear bought in the city especially for the festival, and about to pop into see menswear retailer Chris Wiig, one of the Napierites with whom they're become familiar in the annual February excursions to Hawke's Bay.
"This is the place to be, it's what we do," they said. "We thought we'd try to keep it alive, and it's good to see all these businesses getting in behind it still."
Over at Port o' Call in Ahuriri, there had been High Tea cancellations, said proprietor Tania Keesing, but around midday it still looked near-full, and the owner busy-as.
Carol Hay, of Omokoroa, and Doug Pilkington, of Pauanui, are spending more than a week in Hawke's Bay, and before the Port o' Call stop had visited six wineries, and had "a beautiful meal" at Craggy Range, and gone cycling, having decided a cancellation wasn't going to spoil the fun.
"Clearly, the list of events that are on is growing," said Pilkington, on his first Art Deco visit, with Hay, who had been to the Art Deco Festival about four years ago.
"It rained every day ... this time it was cancelled, but we built our week around it," said Hay.
Musicians Arthur Grimes and Kevin Abbott were like the band on the Titanic, playing on through on the grass patch beneath the tree hear the Masonic Hotel, where most tables were full for lunch.
Grimes, a former Reserve Bank chairman, said that as two members of Wellington seven-piece City Jazz, who have played the Art Deco Festival in Napier for the last seven years: "We managed to get here, so we thought we may as well play anyway."
"Ain't she sweet, Ain't she nice," seemed apt enough for the moment, as Napier embarked on a sunny Hawke's Bay weekend, with temperatures over 25 degrees expected.
Earlier festival director Greg Howie told listeners of NZME station The Hits: "What has been amazing to see is how the community has embraced Art Deco and still want to bring this weekend to life." 'How Will You Deco?' has taken on a whole new meaning now and will well and truly be a celebration of the resilience and spirit of the Hawke's Bay people."
Trust general manager Jeremy Smith said: "After a rollercoaster week, the spirits of the Art Deco Trust have really been lifted by Hawkes Bay's enthusiasm for the region to shine despite no official festival."
The late Bob Marley seemed to get what it was all about, as out of place as he may have seemed. On the music in the mall, he blared: "Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right … "
EVENTS GUIDE: SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Art Deco Guided Walks: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Art Deco Vintage Car Tours: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Art Deco Bus Tour: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Napier Art Deco Window Displays: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Down Argentine Way: Sat 20 February (please phone 027 5829 925 to book)
At the Pictures: Top Hat: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
At the Pictures: Ninotchka: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
CAN-Do Deco: Thurs 18 February – Thurs 11 March (Free)
1930s Escape Room at Napier Prison: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Port O Call High Tea: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Brunch with Style at the County Hotel: Sat 20 February
Ahuriri Dinner: Sat 20 February
Par2 Mini Golf: Sat 20, Sun 21 February
Deco Belles: Sat 20 February (Free)
Charter Parade: Sat 20 February 12.30pm (Parade from Emerson St to the Sound Shell) (Free)
Madcap Block Party at the Common Room: Sat 20 February (Free)
Hastings Art Deco & Earthquake Walk: Sat 20 February (Meet at Hastings iSite)
'The Ritz' Street Party @ Market Street: Sat 20 February (Free)
Nicole & The High Society Swingers: Sat 20 February
The Mission Art Deco Party: Sat 20 February (SOLD OUT)
Napier Municipal Theatre Viewing: Sat 20, 9am – 3pm & Sun 21 February, 9am – 1.30pm (Free)
Divine Deco: Sun 21 Feb at Waiapu Anglican Cathedral (Free)
Lazy Sunday at the Common Room: Sun 21 February (Free)
Tea with the Stars: Sun 21 February
Please note: The Napier City Council is no longer lifting the liquor ban on Sunday 21st Feb.