Special guest ... Santa makes an appearance at last year's Waitaki District Santa Parade. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

Surprises are in store for the thousands who will watch this year’s Waitaki District Santa Parade on November 25.

Scheduled to start at 11am, the parade will begin outside McDonald’s Oamaru and make its way along Thames Highway and lower Thames St, finishing before the rail line that crosses the street.

Parade organiser Anton Roswell, of The Big O, said the parade had been months in the making and believed it would have a real North Otago feel.

“It’s a community parade, so it’s a celebration of the entire community. It’s our chance to party and celebrate the end of the year.

“The trucking businesses are a huge part of our community and so’s the farming industry, so that’s why there’s a lot of trucks and a lot of farming equipment and things in it.

“Sometimes people complain there’s too many truck . . . they actually pay for the event to happen.”

As well as the usual heavy machinery, emergency services vehicles, animals and floats including “five or six” new ones for 2017, there will also be a flyover by a Yak-3 Russian fighter plane before another “huge, big, massive surprise”, Mr Roswell said.

“Every year, I do something that’s never, ever been done before in Oamaru and I’ve organised that for this year . . . people will be talking about it for years.”

Afterwards, a concert will be held at the Friendly Bay playground. It will start between 11.45am and noon.

There will also be helicopter rides from the grassed area behind the Victorian precinct until 1pm.

Mr Roswell said several thousand people lined the street to watch the parade each year, and they were not just from Oamaru.

“My gut feeling is we’re getting people from Waimate, Palmerston and Timaru to watch it because it’s a really good show. It’s the biggest free event in Oamaru.

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