Now, that’s feeling more like Christmas!
Santa took his sleigh for the traditional ride around The Square during the Palmerston North Christmas parade on Sunday.
The threatening rain largely stayed at bay, allowing a colourful procession that included Chinese dancers, cheerleaders and unicyclists, to keep relatively dry as they wended their way through the centre of the city.
Neither the drizzly conditions, nor the occasional short shower could dampen the enthusiasm or excitement of the family groups lining the route.
The parade attracted more than 10,000 people who crowded the streets and The Square to officially welcome in the festive season.
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith said the parade benefited from a lot of new floats this year. There were 60 business and community groups that contributed to the procession, organised by Kairanga Lions.
Four-year-old Molly Chapman slipped her way to the front of the crowd, enthusiastically waving to each float, the pockets of her yellow raincoat slowly filling with the lollies and small gifts that the costumed performers handed out.
‘‘The Christmas parade is cool, cool,’’ she said.
Molly was excited to see Santa, but not half as much as she was to see a real live ‘‘pirate’’ near the beginning of the procession – Palmerston North’s bell-ringing town crier Caroline Robinson, resplendent in her ceremonial 18th century outfit.
Te Manawa’s float, featuring performers in inflatable dinosaur costumes, was a highlight for 5-year-old Byron Forbes.
Tayla Cornwall found it hard to choose a favourite from the floats, roller-skaters, cartwheeling gymnasts and leaping cheerleaders.
The 8-year old did find picking her favourite Santa from the parade easier, though. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the big man himself who was throwing lollies from his sleigh at the end of the parade.
She preferred the woollybearded and kilted St Nick who had marched past earlier.
‘‘I really liked the Santa leading the Scottish pipe band.’’
Prior to the parade, the usual Christmas market in The Square attracted a wide variety of stallholders, with live entertainment from the soundstage.
Kairanga Lions was putting its parade fees towards the Wildbase wildlife recovery centre planned for the Esplanade, and towards community youth programmes.
Pipe major Sandy Maclaus (St Knicker-less?) leads out the band on Sunday.