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Vow to keep Christmas spirit alive

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Working to bring Christmas cheer to Howick this year are, from left, John Russell, Pip Burns, Santa Claus, Claire Atkinson and Bo Burns. Times photo Wayne Martin

Santa Claus has delivered a mix of good news and some not-so-good news during a fleeting visit to east Auckland.

The jolly man in the bright red suit travelled to Howick from his home at the North Pole to announce while he’ll make his normal Christmas Day deliveries to local children, due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year’s Howick Santa Parade is being postponed to 2022.

Santa made the announcement in Picton Street on October 22, joined by parade organiser Bo Burns and members of the event’s committee.

The Howick Children’s Charitable Trust (HCCT) stages the parade, which is east Auckland’s most popular annual community event.

Reading from a prepared statement while seated inside the Picton Street rotunda, Santa said it was a “very tough decision”.

“For 2021 we’re not cancelling it, we’re postponing it to 2022, so there will be no parade here this year, but never fear, as we’ve got some alternatives for you.

“What we’ve decided to do is keep the Howick Christmas spirit alive and bring you some even better news.

“Taking its place this year is a month-long Christmas celebration up here in the village.

“We’re going to have live music, Disney characters and, of course, I’ll show up as well.”

Santa said he’s very excited he now gets to visit Howick several times but, in the meantime, he had to go back to the North Pole.

“I just shot in here [to New Zealand]. I MIQ’d in and out thanks to the Government.

“I’ll see you soon in the next couple of months.”

Burns thanked people, including those involved with the 69 parade floats registered for this year’s parade, for their patience.

“We hope to still bring some joy to your children and schools and involve them in some kind of celebration over the month of December,” she said.

“It’s not all over rover. We will be bringing the Christmas spirit to Howick.

“We are very aware of the money the trust [HCCT] has been granted to pull off this iconic event.

“We will very much be accountable and transparent with what we will be sending back to the grants and what we will still be able to achieve and give to our local community.

“That is really important and what the Trust is all about.”

Burns asked everyone to take care and said HCCT would soon be in touch with people who booked floats.

She thanks Rotary groups for their support, the Howick Local Board, NZ Community Trust and parade sponsors.

“Like many businesses, the trust is going to pivot by bringing joy to the community with many Christmas celebrations planned throughout December,” she told the Times.

“A planned programme involving many community groups will be launched closer to December.

“In the meantime, the trustees and committee have to now work hard to undo the hundreds of hours of planning and work.

“They can’t wait to bring some magic cheer to the village.”

Covid-19 has also impacted the annual Farmers Santa Parade in Auckland’s CBD, as this year’s event has been cancelled.

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