A Christmas parade in Petone has been cancelled over safety fears after an Auckland procession was marred by a BurgerFuel car ploughing into bystanders.
Six people were injured during the Avondale Christmas Parade last week when a BurgerFuel-branded car rolled into two pedestrians after revving its engines. Three people inside the car, including two children, were then alleged to have been pulled from the vehicle and assaulted by the crowd.
Tensions were high after the incident, which happened about 11.45am. It is understood the crowd jumped on the bonnet of the car and smashed their fists on it and that Māori wardens had to hold them back.
Helen Swales, co-ordinator of Petone’s Jackson Street Collective, told the Herald the Avondale incident influenced the decision to cancel the Twilight Christmas Parade, which was supposed to happen tonight.
“All that would need to happen is a young child to see a lot of our float trucks like fire engines, emergency response, demolition trucks that are really cool that actually could cause quite a bit of damage to a wee person if their parent perhaps wasn’t paying attention in the moment.”
She said the BurgerFuel incident had caused the collective to pause and think about the risk profile of the event.
“If it was just wet weather, I would be fine with it because then it would be a call for parents to decide. But this is just a little bit different in the sense that we’re becoming really sensitive now about health and safety issues.”
Because of the Avondale incident, it was decided the parade “absolutely” needed more marshals than in previous years.
“A risk profile comes into a lot of the decisions that we make at the Jackson Street programme.
“We’re very aware of our demographic and, when you have incidences like that, that happen up and down the country, they do, unconsciously or consciously, come into your decision-making.”
The decision to cancel the parade was not an easy one and Swales said she felt terrible for all the community groups and schools that had volunteered to participate in the parade. But there were plenty of other family-friendly events people could attend, including private sessions with Santa and an interactive Santa’s Grotto.
“Santa Claus has decided to go exploring the universe, so who knows where he’s landed?”
The Twilight Christmas Parade had originally been scheduled for Friday last week but was postponed due to bad weather.
The Avondale Santa Parade was held on Saturday.
Vita Molyneux is a Wellington-based journalist who covers breaking news and stories from the capital. She has been a journalist since 2018 and joined the Herald in 2021.