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Hamilton Christmas Parade float to feature for twelfth year

Hamilton Christmas Parade float to feature for twelfth year

Te Kauwhata man Richard Stewart, 69, is on a mission to put Christ back in Christmas with the float he takes to parades around the country.

This is the twelfth year that his famous Jesus' Birthday Party float will appear in the Hamilton Christmas Parade on Sunday 14 December.

"The world is a changing place and I am scared that one day, children won't know what the true meaning of Christmas is, and will rather get caught up in the material side of the day," he says.

"Very few Christmas parades have a Christian float in them these days, and that's a bit scary."

It was after noticing this fact 12 years ago, that the Te Kauwhata St. Margaret's Anglican Church member, who is also an avid inventor, decided to create his Jesus' Birthday Party float.

"With the help of a professional scaffolder, we were able to take the float to a new level by encasing my work truck cab with a stable front and have Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the manger, with the wise men on the tray of the ute."

The characters are surrounded by nine angels; five of whom are canter-levered out from the roof. One of the wise men raises a star some six meters in the air, while Jesus in his manger is elevated four meters.

"The float depicts the story of the birth of Jesus and reminds people that Jesus is the reason for the season," said Stewart.

Although he is worried at the lack of nativity floats in today's Christmas parades, it hasn't stopped Richard's float from being invited to take part in parades throughout the country year after year.

He even made a special trip to take part in the Christchurch and Greymouth parades three years ago; driving the gear down south himself to give joy after what had been a hard year for the locals.

But aside from spreading the good word, Stewart is the first to admit that he receives a lot of joy himself by donating his time and float to different town's festive seasons.

"In years gone by, we have been able to have unwell children come for a ride on the float in the parade for half an hour at a time, organised through the Child Cancer Foundation, and I can't find words to describe the looks on their faces. It's just magic," he said.

He says the float only takes him an hour to put together on the day, so he hopes to keep driving the float in not just this year's Christmas parade, but beyond.

Also included in the 2014 Hamilton Christmas Parade will be Stewart's Red Bull Trolley Derby 'Sitting Bull' trolley, which has a moving head, legs and snorting nostrils, as well as his latest trolley creation, the 'Flying Saucer'.

For more information about the Hamilton Christmas Parade, visit www.hamiltonchristmas.co.nz

-ENDS-