An anonymous local donor has come forward to save Rotorua's Christmas parade.
At the end of last month, organisers announced the parade would be cancelled this year - for the first time in its history - due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The annual Christmas event is run by a charitable trust and relies on sponsorship, donations, volunteers and community support to stage the event. Given pressure on businesses, it was decided not to run the event this year.
It's now been brought back after an anonymous supporter offered financial and practical support to the organiser, Boost Fundraising & Events.
Event director Alia Branson received a call from the community member the day after the Rotorua Daily Post announced the cancellation.
Branson said the anonymous supporter could see how important the parade was to the community and, being in a position to help, contacted them, and was encouraging others to do the same.
"I was shocked," Branson said.
"This is something you only ever read about, and it happened to our parade. I
am just so very grateful that people can be so kind and generous and not expect anything from it but to put smiles on our kids' faces. It really encompasses the spirit of Christmas."
She said the event usually cost $30,000 to run.
While she would not reveal the amount of the donation, she said it was enough that the local event, hospitality, creative and entertainment sectors will not be relied upon to deliver their products and services for free as in previous years.
Also, where a nominal fee had previously been requested to enter a float or walking group, entry is now free.
Branson has resumed putting plans in place for this year's parade, which will now be held on Sunday, December 20 in the Government Gardens.
While details are yet to be finalised, the message of this year's parade will be around bringing the community together and keeping tradition alive.
"This is a year when we have been more apart from each other than ever before," Branson said.
"I didn't even know if I'd still have work in the event industry after lockdown. It really is an honour to be able to continue the event, and in turn, support local businesses as they get back on their feet."
While the help given is an enormous help to organisers, Branson also encouraged those who were able to sponsor a float and show support for their chosen community group or organisation.
"This may entail providing a vehicle, paying for decorations or providing sound, effects, or other items to assist groups to put together the best float possible. We only have six weeks of creation time left, so let's come together and make this happen."
For more information got to rotoruachristmas.co.nz. Entries will be on the website from November 11.
Rotorua's Christmas parade goes back to 1903, when the first carnival was held.
According to the Rotorua Museum website, a committee was established in 1902 and a week-long celebration was held to attract tourists, which included a parade.
That was in place for several decades with the Christmas and New Year carnival programme including racing, concerts, excursions and the parade of decorated vehicles.
It was still held in the 1930s despite the Depression.
The parade was held on New Year's Eve for the last time in 1980, the year of the Centennial celebrations.
In 1981 the parade was held on December 19 with the appearance of Santa. Since then the parade has morphed into what we now know as the Santa or Christmas parade.