Light rain may have kept some away, but it failed to dampen spirits as Warkworth retailers, hairdressers, cafes and bars opened their doors for a pre-Christmas shopping day on Sunday, December 12.
Buskers lined the streets, a choir sang, Santa Claus greeted children and the more energetic took advantage of a bouncy castle in the grounds of the Warkworth Hotel.
The event was organised by One Mahurangi. Manager Murray Chapman says one highlight for him was seeing the smile on kids’ faces on meeting Santa.
Another highlight was the “busk off” outside the Warkworth Hotel, hosted by Clyde Tukaiora Connell. Street performers competed for a top prize of a three-hour studio recording session, plus a myriad of smaller prizes donated by local retailers.
The top prize was won by solo singer/songwriter Keeva, who played a selection of jazz-inspired covers and originals while spectators enjoyed lunch outside the hotel.
Murray says reactions from retailers to the event was mixed with some having a good day and some “not so good”, possibly due to some customers being put off because of the likelihood of rain.
But Murray hopes to run more Sunday events to underscore the point that Warkworth is a great place to do business and “change some buying habits”.
He says once the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway is complete, Warkworth will inevitably find it more difficult to attract custom from visitors. This means retailers will need to be better at serving the needs of local customers, Warkworth also needs to establish itself as a “happening place”, either through festivals or through Sunday trading with lots of entertainment.
Warkworth was preparing for a repeat of the December 12 event on Sunday, December 19.