Santa’s little helpers gear up for parade
November is a chaotic month for the team organising the Farmers Santa Parade.
Costume room manager Ronelle Thompson spends it liaising with choreographers, preparing instructions for the thousands of participants, checking and double checking clothes racks and the hundreds of costumes on them and finalising a million and one other details.
Meanwhile wardrobe mistress Maralyn Meyrick is working “like a madwoman” finishing off costuming right up to the last minute.
“November’s a time where we work huge hours to be ready,” Ms Thompson says.
Putting the show together takes most of the year for the two friends who spend their days surrounded by “absolutely thousands” of costumes in a Newton warehouse.
Ms Thompson designs outfits and props and seamstress Ms Meyrick turns them into a reality.
“We’ve made three or four hundred new costumes this year,” Ms Thompson says. “It’s huge and we’ve just finished all the sets so that’s a relief.”
The parade has some special things in store to celebrate its 75th birthday, including a float featuring the 12 days of Christmas, some huge balloons and a Dr Seuss’ cat in the hat set.
“We’re going to have a good birthday year.”
It takes more than 4000 people to bring the show together, including performers, dancers, marshals, make-up artists, banner carriers and costume minders.
For Ms Thompson and Ms Meyrick, parade-day on November 30 will be a long day, starting at the costume room at 5.30am and not ending until at least 7.30pm.
And after the crowds have gone there is three weeks of washing to be done.
Ms Meyrick says they have befriended many families who volunteer year after year.
“It’s a real family thing. It’s nice for us because we see them from when they’re seven and then watch them grow up.”
“We’ve had families where three generations are involved and one lady who had been doing it for 40 or 50 years,” Ms Thompson says.
Ms Thompson’s own family is no exception. Her daughter Megan Middleton is dressing up for the parade for the fifth time this year, along with her own daughter Asia.
While the spots for volunteers are filled, people willing to sign on as reserves are still needed.
For more information phone Ronelle Thompson on 358-2395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. • The Farmers Santa Parade is on November 30 and starts at 2pm. For information go to www. santaparade.co.nz.
Little princesses: Megan Middleton and youngsters Pepper Taylor-Rose, left, and Megan’s daughter Asia, both 7, are looking forward to being the centre of attention on the swan float at the Farmers Santa Parade.