Newspaper Article 2006 – Parade’s popularity no secret even if Rona’s float is

Parade’s popularity no secret even if Rona’s float is

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She may have just turned 90 but Rona McCarthy still drives, runs her own house and is now gearing up to celebrate Hastings City’s 50th birthday.

For the past few months, Mrs McCarthy and a few friends have been driving to a packing shed to decorate one of the floats to appear in this year’s Blossom Parade.

Mrs McCarthy has been helping put together parade floats for the past five years and remembered when the annual event began in the 50s when the then 40-year-old would watch from crowded Heretaunga Street.

“I remember the streets were lined with people everywhere and the floats were just remarkable,” Mrs McCarthy said.

She was a full time mother of one when Hastings became a city, taking care of her daughter Karen while her husband Leslie, from Waipukurau, worked at Loan-Mercantile.

“We never missed the parade. You had to get there early to get a spot otherwise you’d miss out,” she said.

Having the best float was the ultimate title for any organisation to take away at the annual Blossom Parade – the bigger, the better.

There were months of preparation behind each float. People were sworn to secrecy about the designs, spending afternoons out at local packing sheds making hundreds of thousands of blossoms out of crepe paper.

The secrecy level is much the same these days.

“I can’t tell you about that,” Mrs McCarthy would say with a cheeky grin to any questions that may lead to their secret being let out.

Mrs McCarthy said every so often there was a float that stuck in the minds of the cheering crowd.

For her, it was a giant peacock with a bright and colourful tail that demanded attention when it graced Heretaunga Street.

The great-grandmother put her hand up as a volunteer to help put together the Hastings Building Society float this year and is so tight-lipped about the operation that she wouldn’t even reveal the colour of the blossoms.

It has not only kept her well-occupied but she has found new friends.

Mrs McCarthy may not recall the exact day Hastings was proclaimed a city in 1956 but she can pick out the changes that have taken place with ease.

She remembered the days when you could name every shop owner on the main street and a time when everything was New Zealand owned and made rather than chain stores run by overseas companies.

She remembered a time when women wouldn’t go anywhere without being immaculately dressed, adorned with a hat and a pair of gloves teamed with a classy little handbag.

“It was always nice to get dressed up because the way we dress now makes me feel like I’m off to the beach,” she said.

Photo caption –

READY TO FLOAT: Rona McCarthy, 90, of Hastings, prepares for this year’s Blossom Parade.

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Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

28 July 2006

Creator / Author

  • Warren Buckland
  • Hinerangi Vaimoso


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