A queen in hot pink

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The year was 1986. The blos­soms were out and Alexan­dra’s main street was crowded with on­look­ers try­ing to get a glimpse over heads of the ap­proach­ing fes­ti­val floats.

Michelle Davies, then a 19-year-old post of­fice clerk, was sit­ting on a float ‘‘Tea for Two’’ made by the Catholic Church. She was dressed in a hot-pink gown, adorned with a string of pearls and white gloves that pulled up to her el­bows.

The float, spon­sored by New World, dis­played a gi­ant white and pink teapot and two cups and saucers made of crepe-pa­per flow­ers. About 400 rolls of crepe pa­per were used on the float, to­gether with 9kg of glue and 49kg of wall­pa­per paste.

In the ear­lier days, there were a large num­ber of floats, and huge crowds drawn to the Blos­som Fes­ti­val. To be a float princess was an hon­our and ex­tra spe­cial for Davies whose mother Ros­alie Alexan­der (nee Breen) was crowned fes­ti­val queen in 1961. His­tory re­peated when Davies, on the Tea for Two float, was crowned fes­ti­val queen.

‘‘I was re­ally ex­cited to be asked. I wanted to do it be­cause mum had done it. Back then, you won by your float be­ing voted the best. It is dif­fer­ent now - judges de­cide who the queen is go­ing to be. Back then, the Blos­som Fes­ti­val was still re­ally big.

There were so many more floats and lots of peo­ple would come to town for it. The queen had to wear a funny crown and cape and we had to stand on the roof of the pavil­ion at Pioneer Park.

The queen had to read out a speech that had been writ­ten for her, then we got driven around in vin­tage cars.’’

As part of her prize, she also won a re­turn trip to Alexan­dra in Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia.

‘‘It was a time I will never for­get. The things we had to do for the week .. I had to have time off work to go to all the events...We were quite on dis­play go­ing to every­thing. It was like roy­alty al­most.’’

Over the years she had, like her mother, and mother’s mother Gert Breen, helped make floats.

Her grand­mother was heav­ily in­volved in float-mak­ing, and had helped make floats since the first fes­ti­val in 1957, Davies said.

‘‘She won the Se­nior Blos­som Fes­ti­val Queen ti­tle one year. Mum, mum’s sis­ters, my sis­ters...have all been on floats. It was just the thing to do.’’

❚ style na­chos and tra­di­tional meals like Pad Thai. En­try is free and fam­i­lies are wel­come.

The event is li­censed and there will be a bar within the site, ta­bles, heaters and mar­quees. En­ter­tain­ment and mu­sic is pro­vided.

Brett McMeekin

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