City’s Santa is spe­cial

The cen­tral city is al­ready cov­ered in Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and this year or­gan­is­ers are pulling out all the stops. Reporter Jess Lee finds out what goes on be­hind the scenes to make Auck­land look fes­tive each year.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

For­get the Ba­hamas.

When our favourite Santa fin­ishes the fes­tive sea­son he hol­i­days in West Auck­land.

The Whit­coulls Santa has taken up his usual spot on the cor­ner of Queen and Vic­to­ria streets but when he’s not there he joins his rein­deer and the rest of the city’s pub­lic dec­o­ra­tions in an in­dus­trial ware­house in Kel­ston.

It takes a team of more than 50 peo­ple a cou­ple of days to get the 25 me­tre-tall old fella from the store­house to his el­e­vated Christ­mas home.

Santa has oc­cu­pied some less than glam­orous res­i­dences since 1960 when he was first put up on the out­side of the Farm­ers build­ing in Al­bert St.

A field in South Auck­land ranks among the strangest of them.

Dam­age and gen­eral wear and tear means he needs reg­u­lar main­te­nance.

This year the jolly fel­low was treated to some new boots.

He was once fa­mous for his wink­ing eye and beck­on­ing fin­ger un­til re­con­struc­tive surgery spruced him up in time for Christ­mas 2009.

The makeover took about 4000 hours and $100,000 to help him lose the moniker of the world’s creepi­est Christ­mas or­na­ment.

Heart of the City’s Erin Stewart reck­ons that’s all part of his charm.

‘‘Auck­lan­ders love the fact that their Santa is a lit­tle bit creepy,’’ she says.

The cen­tral city busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion took charge of the Whit­coulls Santa four years ago and has de­cided to step up Auck­land’s game in the Christ­mas stakes.

‘‘His­tor­i­cally Christ­mas in the city has al­ways been

dec­o­ra­tion done on a very small scale.

‘‘We’re look­ing to de­liver a Christ­mas that Auck­land can be proud of.’’

Photo: LAWRENCE SMITH

Se­cret Westie: The Whit­coulls Santa lives in West Auck­land when he’s not on dis­play in Queen St.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch Auck­land’s Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions come to­gether.

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