by YVONNE BALDOCK on 30 NOVEMBER 2015
Few small towns can attract an international recording star to their annual Christmas event.
But Turangi has 50 years of history to celebrate on Saturday 12 December 2015, and Kiwi-born singer Stan Walker will be there to ensure locals have a fantastic night.
This year’s Santa parade and Christmas in the Park, organised by local community group Safe Turangi, also marks the culmination of the town’s 50th jubilee celebrations.
Youngsters enjoying Turangi’s Santa parade
Safe Turangi spokesman Tangonui Kingi says the town’s entire population of 3000 is expected to attend the event at Te Kapua Park.
“People are already talking about it and they’re very excited. It’s been a year of celebrations on a smaller scale to mark our 50th jubilee. Turangi is a very close-knit town – everyone knows everyone else – so it’s important that we do this event justice.”
Safe Turangi has been running for over 20 years and helps give the community a voice on local issues. Tangonui says the organisation wanted to secure a great headline act for this year’s Christmas celebration.
“We wanted a really well-known name but someone relevant to the local community who people could relate to. Stan Walker was the perfect choice.”
The event will begin late afternoon with the town’s annual Santa parade followed by entertainment, amusement rides and “food stalls galore” at Christmas in the Park. The evening will also showcase local talent and conclude with fireworks about 10pm.
“As well as Stan Walker we’ll have local singers, dancers and kapa haka groups. It gives the community a real eye-opener about what talent we actually have in town. Last year a ukulele group gave a performance which was absolutely brilliant.”
This will be the fifth year Safe Turangi has organised a Santa parade and Christmas in the Park, having originally held an expo-style event to help agencies like police, fire, St John, coastguard and victim support connect with the local community.
Turangi’s annual Christmas parade
“The first one was a stunning success. It gave our community something to focus on and something cool for the kids. It was a lot of fun but the underlying message was still about safety and people’s well-being. Each year we’ve carried that platform forward and it’s evolved.”
Safe Turangi’s partner agencies still participate every year, organising quirky and fun ways to interact with locals.
“One year police sent their ‘breakdancing cop’ to Christmas in the Park. Another year they used their speed radar gun to see how fast people could run between road cones. Being able to latch onto an event like ours gives these agencies the ability to connect with people who might need their help.”
This year Safe Turangi asked BayTrust for help to cover the costs of the $60,000 jubilee celebration.
“With the price tag on an event like this it was obvious we needed more partners at the table than we’ve ever considered before. It’s been heart-warming to see the overwhelming support organisations such as BayTrust are giving us. Otherwise we wouldn’t have got it over the line.”
BayTrust approved a $9000 grant which Tangonui says is “a very important piece of the puzzle”. Most of the stage, lighting, sound and other equipment and services have to be brought in from elsewhere, and the committee is working hard to ensure the night is a big success.
“We’ve really upped the ante because it’s the 50th jubilee finale and we’re trying to put a lot of community spirit into this event without things getting too commercialised. Everyone’s really looking forward to a fun night.”
Turangi’s Christmas parade