Santa's back, earlier than ever before.
Halloween hasn't even been marked yet, but Covid-related contractor pressures mean Havelock North New World is already in full Christmas celebration mode.
The beloved, and occasionally loathed, giant 8m high, 4.5m wide, 700kg Santa was erected beside the supermarket's carpark on Thursday night, equipped with his own mask over that big burly beard to ensure he follows level 2 restrictions.
Santa typically arrives the first week of November, but New World wrote on Facebook that the "elves" were so busy this year there were only two dates free this year to erect him - Thursday, or the weekend before Christmas.
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"We didn't want anyone to think he wasn't coming so we got him here a little earlier than normal."
The Santa has been a Hawke's Bay Christmas icon since 1979, when he first appeared at Splash Planet (then Fantasyland).
Twenty-two years ago, Santa was rescued from the scrap heap by the Lucas family and has been on display every year since - from Bridge Pa to the roof of Hastings New World, and since 2020, the Havelock carpark.