The Stratford Business Association Christmas parade drew a large crowd to the town centre on Friday night.
Before the parade, shoppers enjoyed finding some unique gifts at the Christmas market in Prospero Place and the stores open for late-night shopping. Face painting was on offer for younger visitors, as well as a visit from Santa after the parade.
This year’s parade theme was Christmas Traditions, and entrants interpreted that as everything from Christmas at the beach to the traditional nativity scene.
Judges had a tough time picking the winning floats but, after long deliberation, the winner for education was the nativity-themed Homeschool Association float.
In the general class, first place went to the Naki Mowing and Z Stratford combined effort for their float featuring inflatable Christmas characters and tasty foods on offer from Z Stratford. Second place went to Stratford Pharmacy and third to Fieldtorque Taranaki.
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke and Santa were a highlight for many, but were upstaged by their helpers - six-year-olds Willow Graham and Molly Weir - who were full of the joy of Christmas, happily waving to everyone as they travelled along Broadway in the sleigh.
For seven-year-old Aria Tairua, who was visiting Taranaki from Hamilton with her family, the parade was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
“We are staying in New Plymouth and came to Stratford for the afternoon. Then someone told us there was a parade, so we stayed and got hot chips to eat while we watched it. I liked how there were lots of lollies being handed out and Santa waved at me.”
Santa wasn’t the only Christmas character making an appearance on the night, with the Grinch in all his green glory appearing on the Stratford Community Childcare Centre float to the delight of the crowd.
Eight-year-old Thomas Allen said the Grinch was his favourite character.
“I like the elf on the shelf too - we have him at home - but we always watch the Grinch movie on Christmas Eve so it was awesome to see him on the truck.”