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Christmas parade volunteering a family affair

Christmas parade volunteering a family affair

Cambridge-based local, Suzanne Collins, simply loves Christmas.

Come December, you can guarantee her house will be decorated – inside and out – and from breakfast time on 25 December until dinner time, there will be presents, food and family galore in the Collins' household.

"We visit the temple every year, and do the rounds at night to see everyone's houses decorated in lights, tinsel and ornaments," she says.

So it's no wonder that Suzanne has volunteered for the Hamilton Christmas Parade every year for the past 15 years – or that she has passed on her love of Christmas to her family to the point where they have all either has been involved in the city's parade in the past, or are still involved today.

It's volunteers like Suzanne Collins who make the First Credit Union Hamilton Christmas Parade a magical event for young and old every December.

And this year's event, taking place at 3pm on Sunday 14 December, promises to be no exception.

Suzanne will be there – as will her daughter Catherine and Catherine's husband Josh.

"Catherine has been volunteering with the parade since she was 15," says Suzanne.

"She's 24 now. And Josh got conned into it when he starting going out with Catherine, so he's been volunteering the last five years as well."

Suzanne's elder daughter Leigh has also volunteered for a number of years, until life got too busy, as did her husband Glen who has also played the role of Santa Claus at Suzanne's numerous work family Christmas parties over the years.

"We love it. It's the best time of the year, isn't it?" says Suzanne, who has graduated from dressing up as a clown in parades gone by, to now dressing the various characters in the line-up, including Catherine and Josh.

It's a job the Hamilton Christmas Charitable Trust as parade organisers and Suzanne take very seriously.

"We get information about each of the characters and a list of dos and don'ts – there are certain rules around some of the costumes.

"You can't let the characters be seen half dressed – things like that. I really enjoy it."

Hamilton Christmas Charitable Trust Event Manager Karen Watkins said that no less than 2000 manpower hours go into a successful Christmas parade every year, and that they can always use more volunteers.

"Typically, one parade takes about 80-100 people to pull off and that does not include the hundreds of children who perform in the parade each year – two of those are paid and the rest are volunteers," she said.

"Volunteer roles include parade marshals, administration assistants, section leaders, costume dressers, float assistants, costume makers, road closure assistants, characters, float drivers, and float walkers to ensure safety and provide support."

This year, the Trust are particularly looking for more children to take part and dress up in character costumes.

If you would like to volunteer to help out with this year's Hamilton Christmas Parade, visit www.hamiltonchristmas.co.nz to register.

-ENDS-