Cel­e­brat­ing the big day

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By ADEN MILES

Traf­fic in Toko­roa came to a stand­still as thou­sands of peo­ple came to see the huge street pa­rade which cel­e­brated the lon­gawaited start of Rugby World Cup 2011 last Fri­day.

Bridge St in Toko­roa was a mag­nif­i­cent sweep of colour­ful flags, painted faces, tra­di­tional dress, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and plenty of cheer­ing in nu­mer­ous lan­guages.

The event was so big it stopped store trad­ing.

Shop­pers and store staff were com­pelled onto the pave­ment by the colour and ex­cite­ment.

South Waikato District Coun­cil com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment man­ager Amanda Hema said it was a won­der­ful day.

‘‘We were all over­whelmed by the amount of in­ter­est shown and be­lieve there were close to 2000 peo­ple in­volved in the pa­rade,’’ Ms Hema said.

The street pa­rade also helped to launch In­volve 11.

The pa­rade be­gan at the New World car park and made its way down Bridge St to Leith Place where there was a sausage siz­zle.

More than 500 chil­dren from pri­mary and pre-schools took part in the pa­rade, rep­re­sent­ing the dif­fer­ent na­tions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Rugby World Cup.

‘‘Toko­roa re­ally came out to cel­e­brate – it was a feel good event that saw smiles on the face of all the kids (and par­ents alike) who came to par­tic­i­pate,’’ Ms Hema said.

The schools which took part in­cluded Am­is­field Full Pri­mary, rep­re­sent­ing Samoa, Eng­land, Aus­tralia, France, South Africa, Ire­land and Scot­land; David Henry rep­re­sented Canada, Fiji, Italy, Ja­pan, Rus­sia, and Namibia; Bishop Ed­ward Gaines rep­re­sented Ge­or­gia; Toko­roa Cen­tral proudly sup­ported Tonga, the United States and Wales; while Te Kura Kau­papa Maori o Te Hiringa wore Ar­gentina’s colours with pride.

Preschool chil­dren were also in­volved in­clud­ing Samoan Tau­mafai Aoga Amata sup­port­ing Samoa; St Marks Com­mu­nity Preschool, Te Awhi Mai Te Ko­hanga Reo, Toko­roa Play­cen­tre, David Henry Kinder­garten, Te Ko­hanga Reo Ataahua, Ata Marie Te Ko­hanga Reo, The Ark, Te Ko­hanga Reo Tu­arua o Toko­roa, Te Rau Oriwa Early Learn­ing Cen­tre, Ra-Itu Koanga and St Lukes all sup­ported New Zealand’s All Blacks while Te Ara Me­tua Pu­nanga Reo Kuki Ai­rani backed South Africa.

At the end of the vi­brant pa­rade peo­ple were able to touch a large replica of the Webb El­lis tro­phy made out of ply­wood.

Chil­dren were able to leave their hand prints on the cup.

The fin­ished cup will be on dis­play through­out the cen­tral busi­ness district area dur­ing the In­volve Fes­ti­val.

Pu­taruru and Ti­rau also have their own cup repli­cas.

Ms Hema said the Hands on the Cup ini­tia­tive was well re­ceived as was the free sausage siz­zle.

WORLD CUP READY: Toko­roa’s street pa­rade was a colour­ful event bring­ing many peo­ple to­gether.

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