BIG NEWS

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Grinch of the Johnsonville Christmas parade

I see WhaleOil’s spies have tipped him off regarding the Johnsonville Christmas Parade today. Namely that there were no lollies and no balloons and certain floats missing that were there last year.

I live in Johnsonville and my kids have been involved in every parade for the past five or so years. We were not involved in this one- and this one was different. I attended and noticed a big difference. The organisers decided that no balloons were to be given out, no flyers were to be given out and no lollies were to be distributed. The rationale behind this was that distributing lollies and balloons to the kids held up the flow of the floats. This is a pathetic excuse as there were bigger gaps between floats this year than any other year. This rule meant that groups like The Salvation Army couldn’t hand out fliers to advertise their Christmas service. And the Sallies have a big presence and community outreach in Johnsonville. The rule meant that other groups couldn’t use their balloons and kids were asking their parents why they didn’t get any lollies this year.

One of the other reasons kids would have got fewer lollies, even under last years’ lolly rules, is that many groups who gave out lollies last year- such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, which has a prominent presence in Johnsonville, were banned from having a float as they don’t deal with kids. The organising committee had a rule that only those groups that have involvement with kids were allowed to have a float and participate in the parade. So why was the Hari Krishna’s there, why were some retail outlets that have nothing to with kids allowed to drive their cars along the parade route – and why was there a whole bunch of police with their police dogs. I was told by the organisers that kids like dogs, so that made it OK.

They also like lollies and balloons, a great deal more than police dogs.

National thought it was a bit unfair that it was prohibited from distributing balloons along the parade so a few people pumped some up anyway in Katrina Shanks’ electorate office and distributed them to the kids before the parade started – and good on ‘em.

Peter Dunne, the local MP was in the parade as Santa’s Elf again, but he’s the chair of the Parades’ organising committee as well. The parade’s organising committee, or whoever they delegated the decision to ban lollies, fliers and balloons - need their heads read, and would do well to broaden the entry requirements for floats, and allow for flyers, lollies and balloons to be distributed in next year’s parade. As one person who had a hand in making such decisions told me today, it’s all about the kids.

Kids like lollies and balloons. And they don’t care if they get lollies from the Citizens Advice Bureau, The Salvation Army, or the local scouts. They don’t care if they get balloons from the BNZ, National or the local kindy.

Let the kids have their parade back, if it is all about the kids.

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