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Thousands turn up in Auckland to see Santa

Sunday 25 Nov 2012 5:42 p.m.

By Samantha Hayes

The jolly man in red has taken Auckland by storm in one of his major parade outings this Christmas.

His helpers kickstarting the festive season included an esteemed list of Kiwi Olympians.

First out of Santa's starting blocks this afternoon was a team of Olympians, chosen as grand marshals to lead the parade through central Auckland.

“I just cannot believe the turn out,” says BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker. “It's absolutely unbelievable.”

Thousands lined the streets for the annual event, which featured nearly 200 floats, balloon characters and the New Zealand Army Band.

Pam Glaser has been organising the event for 24 years and says it requires 4000 volunteers.

“It is so much work and the more you do ahead of time the better today goes,” says Ms Glaser. “It's just such a huge operation – so many volunteers, such dedicated people.”

The parade takes a 2.2km journey through the city – the aim to put a smile on little ones’ faces.

Farmers has been running the parade for 78 years to launch the start of the Christmas season.

The general consensus amongst the crowd is that's pretty cool. Waiting 30 more sleeps till Christmas? Probably not so cool.

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