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News posted on Wednesday 30th November, 2016

Champions are winners in Auckland’s eyes

Paralympians Lead Farmer's Santa Parade

They’re proven champions in the competitive and fierce world of international sport.

And now our Paralympians are also winners in the eyes of countless of families and kiddies after leading today’s Farmers Santa Parade through Auckland’s CBD to celebrate the city’s festive season.

This year’s parade – Auckland’s 83rd – was led by five of our champion Paralympians seated proudly on the all-new Rio-themed Paralympics float at the head of the cavalcade.

Javelin silver medallist Holly Robinson – who carried the New Zealand flag in Rio – was joined by teammates Nikita Howarth, Rebecca Dubber, Laura Thompson and Jesse Reynolds as the official Grand Marshals for this year’s parade.

Tens of thousands of excited parade-goers welcomed both them and Santa to Auckland as the 1.9-kilometre-long event wound its way through the city’s CBD.

In addition to the stellar sporting connection, cultural diversity was a huge theme in 2016. Brazilian dancers brought their own rays of sunshine following this year’s highly successful Paralympics in Rio.

Indonesian and Japanese entries mix with the mandatory festive season exhibits and there were entries that shone a light on Bollywood.

This year’s charity of choice The Salvation Army was also a feature with their brass bands entertaining the crowds while others worked hard to collect funds which will be used to provide much needed support for families during the challenging Christmas period.

In her 28th year running the event, Farmers Santa Parade organiser Pam Glaser says, “this year has been a real mix of contemporary characters and traditional favourites. It’s not only celebrated the festive season but the cultural diversity of Auckland city as a whole and I’m so proud of how it’s all come together.“

“Certainly our Paralympic athletes were a big hit with the crowd,“ Pam says. “The Rio float looked stunning with its bold colours and dancers alongside. Our Paralympians did us proud and it was a huge honour to have them lead the procession.

“In terms of the event itself, it was probably our biggest year ever in terms of float variety and amazing pageantry, fun and surprises that have made it a perennial favourite.“

The annual Christmas extravaganza concluded with Santa’s Party in Aotea Square and while the rain set in crowds celebrated the festive season with continuous entertainment all under the watch of the Lego Christmas Tree.

More than 3.5 thousand people were involved in helping to ensure the parade ran smoothly. They ranged from a backstage team of hair and makeup artists to the costume team making last-minute repairs and touch ups, drivers towing the floats and traffic controllers closing off streets to create the parade route.

“Thousands of Aucklanders give up their everyday lives to make the Farmers Santa Parade such a delight every year for the kiddies – and grown-ups – of the city,“ says Pam Glaser. “We owe them a huge thank you – see you again in 2017.“

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