The Art Deco Festival that wasn't was in the last throes of its full-swing self-propulsion as the sun started to settle in Napier this evening.
But now, says Art Deco Trust chairwoman Barbara Arnott, who on Tuesday had to announce the trust's decision to call off the festival amid the knowledge that thousands would carry on anyway: "The reality will start to hit-home on Monday."
That reality is working-out what impact the cancellation of the core attractions had, put aside by the trust and it's small staff as it strived to keep the public aware of what was still going on after Covid-19 limits, which threatened to shut down the whole five days were relaxed, just a few hours too late to avoid the announcement.
The passion for the Art Deco theme struck a particular chord with Arnott, who had 12 years as mayor of Napier as the Art Deco phenomenon grew legs, and she said this afternoon: "I talked to people who were just absolutely passionate about Art Deco. It does lift your heart somewhat to see these people coming out regardless."
"We knew there were still going to be plenty of people in Napier, and all the people involved, from the small staff here to the tourism operators and the people of Napier have done everything possible to make sure people have enjoyed themselves."
That was particularly so for near 80-year-old Sunil Mookerjee, who moved to New Zealand about 10 years ago from Koolkata ("we still call it Calcutta"), and lives in Auckland with wife Mary.
He'd never been to Napier before and didn't think he would get the chance, until friend Ray Crombach, of Manurewa offered a ride – in his 1936 Chrysler Convertible C8 Airstream Deluxe.
As late as Wednesday, with Auckland still under travel restrictions because of the level 3 alert, they still did not know whether they would be coming, but with the relaxation the next day, Crombach, owner of six vintage cars, was determined, and said: " "Pack your bags, we're going."
It hadn't been the only hitch. They'd been booked into Kennedy Park Resort, but had to find other accommodation as the council-owned facility still had to make room for guests forced out of their homes by the Napier flood on November 9.
Crombach, a regular at Napier Art Deco festivals for about five years will without question be back again in 2022, was one of about 150 who lined up prized automobiles from yesteryear, the oldest, again, being the 1903 Oldsmobile.
Mookerjee was in his element, recalling the days of his grandfather's Packard Clipper in India, and his father's Studebaker, and astounded by the what he reckoned was the internationally-unequalled array of vintage vehicles attracted to Napier, each year, festival or no festival.
"This is absolutely super," he said. "I was blown out of my mind."
Art Deco Trust communications and sponsorship manager Maria Gourlie said: "The streets had a great vibe and it appeared everyone just got on with embracing the Deco spirit and visited the bars restaurants and cafes with a bit of shopping along the way."
It was difficult to count how many events had gone ahead, but she noted there were "quite a few events" still running right up to Sunday night, and a Mission Art Deco Party on Saturday at the Mission Winery sold out on the day it was listed.
The turnout caught the Napier City Council out. Staff confirmed "official" Art Deco Festival road closures were cancelled on Wednesday. Unable to implement closures otherwise except in emergency situations or if requested by police, it received a request from police, so closed a section of Marine Parade for safety reasons.