Blossom festival marks start of spring
Sat, 22 Sep 2012 8:17p.m.
Crowds lined Centennial Avenue in Alexandra today for the grand procession of the town's annual blossom festival.
The procession is the cornerstone of an event that brings thousands of visitors to the Central Otago town each year to mark the arrival of spring.
The Alexandra Pipe Band led the procession, the 56th to be held, on a sunny day.
Ellie Trask, 18, a Dunstan High School student, was crowned festival queen and prizes were awarded for floats.
"It's just been magic," organiser Phil McPherson said.
"It was beautiful weather - it actually got too hot," he said.
He estimated between 15,000 and 18,000 people watched the procession, and as many as 15,000 attended an event in a local park.
He said a back-to-basics attitude to the festival had ensured its ongoing success.
"It's Central Otago's festival and we've just taken ownership of it," he said.
Central Otago is a fruit-growing region where harsh winters are followed by hot summers.
Organisers say the festival, which runs until September 29th, is New Zealand's longest running event of its type.
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