According to weather forecasters it’ll be fine on the night – just what’s needed for Hawke’s Bay’s Christmas at the Park in a year where even the viability of the show was hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.
Sponsored by Property Brokers, the event this year shifts to Park Island, Napier, where gates, with free entry, open at 3pm on Saturday, and on-stage action starts at 5pm.
Kaisen Charitable Trust’s shipping container, storing about $20,000 of gear for the big night out, was submerged in the Eskdale floods in February, moved about 500 metres and filled with water and silt.
Trustee and organiser David Trim said: “The container was so full of slimy mud that the Hiab truck sent to pick it up couldn’t lift it.”
The gear had been accumulated over the 16 years, including about 50 mural boards painted for the shows, and Trim said: “We are trying to save as many as we can.”
“As I was throwing trailer loads of gear off at the dump, I felt a real sadness, not just for the actual loss, more for the years it took to accumulate the gear along with all the many people that contributed to it and all the donations over the years that we used to build up our resources,” he said.
After removing all the mud from the container the job became a task of saving what they could, with help from the Rotary Club of Ahuriri, tasked with cleaning, scrubbing and assessing what could be saved.
“It was a big job,” he said. “The silt just found its way into absolutely everything.”
Just one event had to be cancelled, because of the pandemic and replaced by an online event, and weather has played its part over the years. Saturday is forecast to have a maximum temperature of 22C, and rising, with 26C forecast for the next day.
Trim said it will be a time not only for Christmas celebration but also to “remember that we are connected as a community, no matter the year we may have had.”
Held in Hastings last year and back to Napier in 2023, the headline act is rising star Cassie Henderson with local artists included, and of course, a white-bearded and red-suited one Santa Claus (aka Father Christmas).
Leap Education and the Air Training Cadets will run the children’s arena, with more than 20 face painters and a team of cadets putting children through a fun confidence course.
The event is supported by the Napier City and Hastings District Councils, with gates opening at Park Island at 3pm and action on-stage from 5pm. Parking spaces will be available along Clyde Jeffery Drive and around the park.
Doug Laing is a senior reporter based in Napier with Hawke’s Bay Today, and has 50 years of journalism experience in news gathering, including breaking news, sports, local events, issues, and personalities.