A “Santa Convoy” before lighting up of Whitianga’s outdoor Christmas tree

23 Nov 2021

A “Santa Convoy” before lighting up of Whitianga’s outdoor Christmas tree

A “Santa Convoy” will be taking the place of the 2022 Whitianga Santa Parade. The convoy will depart Lyon Park in Whitianga at 7:00pm on Saturday, 4 December and will be followed by the lighting up of Whitianga’s first ever outdoor Christmas tree at 8:30pm. “To replace the Santa Parade with a convoy was a decision we haven’t taken lightly,” says Stephan Bosman, owner of The Informer and one of the trustees of the Business Support Community Trust (the community trust organising the Whitianga Santa Parade and owner of the outdoor Christmas tree). “The uncertainty around the Covid-19 framework that will be in force at the time of the parade and not putting people’s health unnecessarily at risk, meant that we’ve had to look at a workable alternative.

“The convoy will be made up of some of the emergency services in Mercury Bay, including the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade and St John Whitianga, and vehicles from the Whitianga Classic Car Club and the American Muscle, Street & Custom Club Whitianga, and will follow a longer route through Whitianga. Parts of South Highway West, Kupe Drive, Joan Gaskell Drive, Cook Drive, Buffalo Beach Road and, of course, the Whitianga CBD will be included in the route. Unfortunately no businesses and community groups will be able to enter floats in the convoy. Santa and Cookie Bear - who’s fast becoming a Whitianga Santa Parade regular - will be hitching rides with some of the muscle car owners.

“By having a convoy, we hope to maintain the magic of Christmas while everyone can safely distance.”

The convoy is expected to last about 30 minutes and will terminate at the Whitianga Town Plaza where the 8m tall outdoor Christmas tree will be waiting to be lit up. Access onto the plaza will be regulated in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time. The Whitianga Dixieland Band will perform live from approximately 7:15pm before handing over to More FM announcer, Mike Plant - a renowned DJ in his own right - who will let the excitement build in the lead up to the lighting up of the Christmas tree. “We’ll be livestreaming the Town Plaza festivities on The Informer’s Facebook page so that nobody misses out,” says Stephan. 

The outdoor Christmas tree will be blessed by Joe Davis of Ngati Hei before being lit up.

The Business Support Community Trust has been running for the past two weeks a colouring competition to find the student who will “flick the switch” to light up the tree. The competition is open to all primary school students in Mercury Bay and closes on Friday this week (26 November). Entry forms are available from The Informer’s office. Some truly impressive entries have already been received.

“The Business Support Community Trust was formed earlier this year as a vehicle through which local businesses can support the community we all live and work in,” says Stephan. “The outdoor Christmas tree is one of several long-lasting projects we’ve identified. When we ordered the tree early his year, we couldn’t help to wonder how we were going to pull it off, but with enormous support and generosity from businessowners and community-minded individuals, Whitianga is now going to have a Christmas people will hopefully remember for a long time to come.”

The Business Support Community Trust is always looking for more businessowners to become involved in the management and governance of the trust. “If you own a business and want to make a positive contribution the local community, we would love to hear from you,” says Stephan. The trust can be emailed at bsc.mb2021@gmail.com

The outdoor Christmas tree lighting up programme and a map with the route of the 2022 Whitianga Santa Convoy will be published in next week’s Informer. 

Pictured: Cookie Bear getting ready to participate in last year’s Whitianga Santa Parade