A Kiwi Icon - The Alexandra Blossom Festival Parade
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Published: September 28th 2014
e think we are being taken as North Island ‘softies’ by C & M if the thick bed coverings are anything to go by.
We do occasionally exchange some friendly banter by email when Alexandra features in weather extremes such as the lowest morning temperature in the country while Tauranga sits as the warmest place or when we are watching the puddles grow in the backyard because of heavy rain while Alexandra basks in sunshine.
However this morning has dawned with a clear sky and prospect of ample sun to keep us ‘softies’ warm in the Central Otago sunshine.
We continue to enjoy a lie in and it is going to be hard later next week when the holiday is over to have to return to the old routine of early breakfast and Gretchen starting work at 7am.But at least it gives you something to aim and save for, another holiday.
Today presents one of the highlights of our trip south and that is the Alexandra Blossom Festival Parade which has been a tradition in the town since 1957 and is the longest running festival in New Zealand.
With the sun warming up the day nicely
we took the short stroll into the town and found ourselves a good spot with an uninterrupted view of the passing parade.
It seemed like the entire population of Alexandra, around 5000,and an influx of people from surrounding towns were lining the main street such is the popularity of the event which heralds the start of spring.
Everyone who wants to get involved can enter their piece of farm machinery, vintage car or colourfully decorated ‘florries’ which are rather ingeniously disguised supermarket trolleys covered in brightly covered blossom with almost whatever theme you would like to have..A huge amount of time must go into each ‘florrie’which is testament to the dedication of those who enter.
And of course no parade is complete without a band or two and in a country which reportedly has more Highland Pipe Bands than Scotland we weren’t disappointed by the number that took part along with a solitary brass band, just to give a little balance.
Watch here for a striking display of a pipe major heading his Highland Pipe Band.
The skill and leadership that the drum major shows as he organises the band to march in time
and in a straight line is a marvel to behold and the guy with the ginger beard leading one of the bands with his left hand swinging straight while his right hand carrying the mace came smartly across his body all in tune with the swirl of the pipes and beat of the drums. A fine display on a bright spring day.
It was great to see hundreds of kids, some watching their schoolmates passing by in one of the ‘florries’, througherly enjoying themselves in the sunshine.
This festival and parade is an icon of New Zealand and we are sure all of these kids will be bringing their children back to watch the parade in20 or 30 years time as this event is sure to endure.
Returning back across the azure blue Clutha River bridge to C & M’s architectully designed home located amongst a rocky outcrop which reminds us of being in Colorado or Nevada, we had a tasty ploughman’s lunch with the warm bread that Marilyn had made this morning.
If they keep feeding us this well we shall never want to leave!
Then it was chill out time which was good
because while it is interesting and fun to be out and about it is also valuable to recharge the batteries for more exploration and discovery ahead.
Late in the afternoon we took a short drive up to a plateau that was the old golf course above the town to visit and have afternoon tea with more distant relatives of Chris and Gretchen.
It has been interesting as they attempt to fill in gaps in the family tree and we will try to continue that when we meet up with my Aunty and cousin in Dunedin on Tuesday.
It was a delicious afternoon tea of very traditional scones the size and consistency our mothers used to make with a good spread of jam topped with cream. Our hostess had made enough to feed a bus had we had that many hangers on with us and gave us enough to take home to have for supper when our visit ended.
Despite the fine sky the wind in Alexandra can be telling and the southerly with a bit of west in it was blowing briskly across the plateau as we left to come home.
Then it was time
for another hearty dinner and sharing of the video Gretchen had made of the highlight photos from the BBA V2 2013 before we hit the sack with the knowledge that the arrival of daylight saving time at 2am in the morning would rob us of an hour in bed. There could be no excuses as C & M have more adventure and discoveries lined up for us on Sunday.
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