The annual Ōtaki Fireworks Extravaganza went off with a “bang” — great weather conditions, huge — record crowd, plenty of food stalls and things to do.
Haruatai Park filled quickly with eager children and their parents. The Ōtaki Volunteer Fire Brigade had their “beautifully” stacked bonfire ready to light. The foodstall workers were kept very busy as hungry people queued for “ages” for a sausage or hamburger, while the candy floss lovers had an almost 30 minute wait after one machine went on the blink for their taste of the sugary fluff. Happy to say once both machines were operating the queue moved through in half the time. The dessert tent is always popular with a variety of biscuits, cakes and slices and hot tea and coffee on sale, supplemented by a number of vans and tents with cold drinks, sweets and other treats.
Away from the food stalls, the glow sticks tent was very popular with a variety of the iridescent lights. The face painters and hair glam operators were busy transforming young and not so young with a new look. For the energetic — what kids aren’t, there was a variety of inflatable castles and challenge courses, with the “sticky fly” — kids in suits with velcro down the front throwing themselves against the fabric wall and sticking to it with shrieks and laughter. A number of college bands from Ōtaki and further afield provided entertainment for the first part of the night.
With darkness falling, the first fireworks went up with a swish and a bang with “oohs” and “aahs” to be heard from every quarter. Many were spectacular and thoroughly enjoyed during the 10–12 minute display.
The only downside of the evening, with what appeared to be a lower cloud form and slight change of direction in the breeze, many of the exploding fireworks came back over the crowd with several suffering minor injuries from the hot remains; the St John Ambulance Community Patrol treated 12 people with eye injuries.
It is through the hard work of the Waitohu School Home and School committee who organise the annual event and the parents and teachers who man the gates and the stalls, that Ōtaki people and many from further afield, have this wonderful community event.
Thank you Waitohu School and your community.