Santa’s big helper
THERE’S one man in Auckland who has spent 35 years getting ready for Auckland’s biggest Santa parade.
Float builder Peter Taylor spends his days in a central Auckland warehouse where reindeer, carousels, teapots, dragons and a haunted house keep him company.
As a veteran of float creation he works on designs for the annual Farmers Santa Parade, which lights up Auckland’s main street and the faces of thousands of children every year.
Mr Taylor has been placing the finishing touches on about 28 colourful floats that will be on display this Sunday for the 76th year of the parade.
“It’s quite stressful,” he says of the long-awaited event.
“There is the pride of making them look nice. But it’s amazing, people turn up year in, year out.”
The 60-year-old is glad to be back on track after he was struck down by illness in August that caused him to be off work for six weeks.
As the main float builder at the Newton warehouse, Mr Taylor has a couple of part-time workers to help him out but is largely the sole mastermind.
He says some floats can take two months to build with one person working on it.
“It depends how intricate they are. We create a scale model of each. Then they come to life with people on them.”
Floats were initially made from papier mache but are now crafted out of fibreglass and are water resistant.
He recalls a large Buzz Lightyear figure on the back of a float one year that accidentally had the arm ripped off after being caught on a sharp turn.
“We also lost the chimney off the Three Little Pigs float,” he laughs.
Parade general manager Pam Glaser expects just under 200 displays on the day – from the floats, to vehicles, to marching bands and performers.
“It’s a huge amount of work, it’s like a puzzle. But it’s very cool when it all comes together.
“Every year I’m blown away by the support,” she says of the community-minded event.
The Leukaemia and Blood Foundation is the official charity of the parade, which starts at 2pm on Sunday at the corner of Mayoral Drive and Vincent St.
It runs down Queen St and along Customs St before heading back up Albert St to the Wellesley St intersection, taking around 50 minutes to pass each spot.
An after party will then be held on the corner of Rutland St and Lorne St and will feature rides, giveaways, music and performances from acts like Yo Gabba Gabba, The Flaming Phoenix, BlingLing Bros and Bob the Builder.
After the big day the floats are put back into storage and in February, brainstorming begins again for the next parade.
In the event that the parade is cancelled because of rain, it will be held on December 6.
At the reins: Float builder Peter Taylor plays a large role in the lead-up to each year’s Farmers Santa Parade.