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12 December 2008
The votes are in - Santa is staying!
The people have spoken – Santa is staying and this weekend he’s saying thanks.
Heart of the City has been canvassing opinion on the 48-year-old this week to determine whether he remains a Christmas mainstay in the city.
“The reaction has been amazing – people have a strong emotional attachment to the old fella, and he’ll be coming back for sure,” says CEO of Heart of the City Alex Swney.
“The feedback has confirmed what I always suspected – that the Santa is a valuable and treasured part of Auckland. People feel really passionately about the big guy.”
Swney says “At last count over twelve polls have been conducted all showing strong support for Santa. We’ve had feedback from London to Invercargill to Auckland and by a ratio of 3:1 people want us to keep Santa where he is. It has been overwhelming - he’ll be back in 2009 for sure.”
“This weekend’s a great time to come into the city, check out Auckland’s festive icon and knock off your Christmas shopping.”
Heart of the City is inviting children to sign a welcome back card at Whitcoulls to celebrate Santa’s victory – and in return Santa’s giving ten kids bikes away this Christmas. The card will be available for signing between 10am-5pm on Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday.
Heart of the City opened the debate after inheriting the 25m-tall Santa, and footing the $55,000 installation and maintenance bill.
“We are half-way through a programme to modernise the city’s Christmas decorations and create an amazing festive spirit downtown. We needed to work out whether installing the Santa year-on-year was money well spent – it turns out it is,” Swney says.
The Queen Street Santa has stood atop Auckland CBD buildings since 1960. His first roost was on Farmers’ Hobson Street store, and since 1998, Santa has occupied a prime position on the Whitcoulls building on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets.
Saturday and Sunday promise to be two of the biggest days on the Auckland Christmas calendar, with Christmas in the park tomorrow night, and the BIG weekend kicking off in the CBD. The BIG weekend features gift-wrapping outside Westfield Downtown for a gold coin donation, with proceeds going to the city-focused charity Auckland City Mission, a Christmas cake competition and auction, with the cakes on display at CityLife hotel in Queen Street, and continuous festive performances on stage in Freyberg Square off High Street and on street corners around Queen Street.
More information on the BIG weekend can be found at www.biglittlecity.co.nz