15 November, 2013 11:07AM ACDT
Mt Gambier's 'Mr Christmas Parade' gives a sneak peek of new addition
The man who delights children with his themed float creations each year at the Mt Gambier Christmas Parade, says he often gets his most creative ideas when the rest of us are fast asleep.
"They say the best ideas come to you in the middle of the night," said Peter Mounsey, who holds the title of Parade Development Advisor with Mt Gambier City Council.A recent 4am brainstorm helped him puzzle out how to build the treads on his latest creation, a friendly character from popular children's television show, Mr Squiggle.
So Bill the Steam Shovel, famous for his corny jokes and ability to belch steam from his nostrils, now has milk bottles for treads.
"I spent a long time trying to figure out what to make them with," said Mr Mounsey.
"People say 'hang on, they're milk containers'.
Mr Mounsey got in contact with the family of the late Mr Squiggle creator Norman Hetherington to get the nod for the project and incorporated some interesting feats of engineering.
A tiny windscreen wiper motor powers Bill's head up and down and two small steam generators will blow 'smoke' from his nostrils in front of the crowds.
"I think the kids will love that," Mr Mounsey said.
The brand new addition will join 43 other floats this Saturday parading down Commercial St for the Mount Gambier Christmas Parade, with schools and community organisations all vying for the crowd's attention.
The weather forecast is clearing clouds with a top of 18 degrees, with just a slim chance of rain.
Mr Mounsey said he was possibly being a little self-indulgent with Bill featuring as his latest float creation, as he built it not only for the kids, but the adults too.
"People my age will remember it well."
"There's about 20,000 people who come to the parade each year and only half are kids, so you have to build interest for the rest of them too."
The man responsible for parade favourites like the Pirate Ship, Nutcracker and Hansel and Gretel said he works hard to catch parade goers attention each year and reckons he doesn't have long to do it.
"Seven seconds - that's how long each person spends looking at a float," he said.
"We try to improve the look of the parade every year, with at least one new float so every parade is completely different."
Team Leader of Community Events and lady behind the scenes Denise Richardson, said there were 44 floats entered in this year's parade and the popular event was beating out unlikely rivals.
"We just beat out the Tuna-Rama festival in Port Lincoln for the longest continuous running festival in the state for 55 years, they're one year behind us," she said proudly.
This will be the first year in many that the parade is not being fully televised by WIN, however Mrs Richardson said they will still be filming it to show in coming weeks.
Eleven brass bands will also be strutting their stuff, competing in the 2013 Mount Gambier Brass Band Festival , which begins after the parade at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre.
But Mrs Richardson said it's not time to go home afterwards, with the free community event Party in the Park following the parade.
When show time draws near on Saturday, Mr Mounsey says he'll be found up in the mayor's section in front of the Town Hall, watching it all calmly go by, his work done for the year.
Some years, he's driven his float and while he says he much prefers being in the audience, being inside a float does have its benefits.
"When you drive a float, you see nothing," he said.
"But on a float like the Nutcracker, you can see all of them as you go past, smiling and waving.
"It's very rewarding."