On Saturday 22 November at 2.00 pm Mainstreet Wanganui will be holding the annual Whanganui Christmas parade down Victoria Avenue. The parade has become one of the biggest annual events held in Whanganui. This year the parade will be followed by a family orientated concert in Moutoa Gardens/Pakaitore.
Santa or Christmas parades are now a regular part of our Christmas traditions and take place throughout New Zealand in November or December each year. Santa Clause made his commercial debut in New Zealand in 1894 at Wellington’s DIC Store on Lambton Quay. The other main centres soon picked up on the idea and by the early 1900s most had their own parades. Christmas parades were originally established by department stores to announce the arrival of in-store Santas with the clear aim of drawing customers directly into their stores and increasing their sales.
In 1909 George Kersley’s Wanganui store “The Economic’ advertised the appearance of Mother and Father Christmas who arrived in Whanganui by motor car. Particular department stores came to dominate parades held in the main centers – Farmers in Auckland, James Smith’s in Wellington and Hays in Christchurch. Here in Whanganui some of the Christmas decorations that will be used in the parade later this month have come from DIC. The reindeer date back to 1951.
By the late 1980s Christmas parades were becoming far too expensive for individual department stores to run. Whanganui’s Christmas parade had been run by Streetwise for nearly two decades before the organisation of the parade was handed to Mainstreet.