The long-time organiser of the iconic Howick Santa Parade is leaving the position she has held for more than a decade.
Emma Smith, the circulation manager at the Times, has confirmed this weekend’s parade is her last. Emma, daughter of Times managing director Reay Neben, confesses that the decision has been a difficult one to make.
“It’s been wonderful. Every year the parade has grown in size and that has to be one of my biggest achievements,” she says.
“When I started we had 25 groups take part and this year we have 50.”
There’s a lot of work that goes into organising such a large community event and Emma starts organising it in March each year.
There are funding applications to submit to the local board and the event application to submit to council.
“It’s a lot of paper work but it needs to be done. It’s at this time we also have to book in all our contractors,” she says.
“Due to the amount of parades taking part in Auckland, it’s important we book them early. I have to also confirm with our sponsors that they are happy to support the parade again.
“Without our sponsors and contractors the parade wouldn’t happen. They play a crucial role and we are always very grateful for their support each year.”
Emma has been organising the parade for 11 years.
“I’ve had to make the very difficult decision to hang up my organising shoes after this year’s parade,” says Emma.
“It’s been part of my life for such a long time and I’ve loved being able to provide our community with such a wonderful community event. But, with my work commitments it’s become too much.
“I’m a volunteer and I’ve been very fortunate that my employers, Times Newspapers, allow me to organise the parade in their time. They are huge supporters of the parade and our community.”
The parade has been part of the community for more than 30 years and it’s now Emma’s job to find someone to take over the reins.
“I’m confident that I will find someone who is as passionate about our community as I am though. So don’t panic, the parade will continue,” says Emma.
There are so many highlights upon which to reflect.
“I love that we have so many local primary schools now taking part,” she says.
“When I started there were two and over the years, more have decided to take part. This year we have a total of six primary schools registered.
“Another highlight has to be the amount of effort groups go to. The quality of the floats is amazing and I know a huge amount of time, effort and money is spent putting together the floats.
For a community parade, she is very proud of the effort made.
“But, the biggest highlight for me has to be the support the parade has from our whole community,” Emma says.
“I grew up in Howick and even though I now live in Pukekohe, Howick still holds a very special place in my heart.
“To see so many people take part in the parade and turn up to watch, it makes me so proud. It’s the looks on the kids’ faces that makes all the work worthwhile.”