Six-year-old Eli Craigie got an early visit from Santa yesterday. When he returned from helping his grandparents stack hay in sticky conditions, he found a new playhouse – which he had won during Kaiapoi’s Christmas Parade & Carnival – sitting pride of place in his family’s back yard at Amberley. The playhouse was gifted by Waghorn Builders Ltd during the Carnival last weekend. Held on the first Saturday of December, the Kaiapoi community event has proudly retained its true small-town carnival spirit, and its annual Santa parade was once again widely supported by everyone within the Kaiapoi District. The Business Manager for the Kaiapoi Promotion Association (KPA), Martyn Cook, was part of the door-to-door delivery service. Sublime timing Eli’s father, Brendan, who works from home for online retailer Mighty Ape, said his son was ecstatic to find the playhouse ready to go when he got home. Together with his partner, Linda Bruce, he said the timing couldn’t have been better for their family. “We’d already done the majority of our Christmas shopping,” Brendan said. “But we hadn’t had a big spend this year with 2020 being the way it’s been. So, this is really wonderful.” Jake Waghorn said it was a pleasure to be spread some Christmas cheer. Especially to a young couple, who give back. Linda is active in Amberley’s local community, working as a Community Care Personal Assistant and a Group Coordinator for Rachel's House Trust – a non-profit organisation committed to the support of young parents in North Canterbury. “We’ve always been involved in the community, because we’ve found these small efforts go a long way,” Luke said. “We’re just happy to help, and working in conjunction with the KPA on this has been a great thing.” Racing the clock KPA’s Martyn Cook said the competition was eagerly chased by the next generation. To go into the draw, they had to refer to the map within the carnival guide, and to answer where Santa was hiding, and how many reindeer there were. The winner was announced at the carnival, and they had five minutes to personally claim their prize. Brendan and Eli had decided to go to the carnival at the last minute to enjoy the fun and to watch Linda dance with the Northern Gypsy Dance Group in both the carnival, and the Santa Parade. Eli wasn’t the first name drawn, but the initial winner, Belinda McPhie, had taken her tired children home before the announcement. She texted saying that she was unable to claim her prize, and asked that her congratulations to be passed on to the winner. Lucky tap on the shoulder Brendan admitted he almost missed the prize too. “I actually didn't hear my name called out at the drawing, or my phone ring because the event was pretty loud,” Brendan said. “Honestly, if it wasn't for Stewart and April Haig [the family Linda supports] hearing it, and coming to look for us, we would have missed out. So, we owe them a great deal.” Martyn later dropped off half a ham to Belinda – donated by Hellers – making sure she was also sprinkled with a little Christmas spirit.