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Hero Parade is back

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    Hero Parade is back - 23-Feb-2007
    After an absence of more than six years, the Hero Parade is to make a return to Auckland's streets next year - and ratepayers are being asked to foot some of the bill.

    The plug was pulled on the colourful mardi gras-style parade the showpiece event on the gay and lesbian calendar - in 2001, after financial problems and a lack of commitment over future funding.

    While those involved in resurrecting the event were last week refusing to be drawn on details, the Herald on Sunday understands that vodka manufacturer 42 Below has pledged its backing. Organisers are also believed to be seeking help from Auckland City Council.

    The extravaganza of gay pride is expected to include all the fanfare of previous events, except the parade will also wind its way along Karangahape Rd as well as Ponsonby Rd's restaurant strip.

    So far there has been no opposition to the event, with even colourful former mayor John Banks pledging his support.

    "They can have their parade, no problem, so long as there is good quality behaviour and standards which are timeless," said Banks, who while in Parliament described homosexuality as unnatural, unhygienic and un-Christian.

    Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, who earlier this year condemned the Queen Street Boobs on Bikes parade as "morally repugnant", said he had not been told of plans to revive the event and at this stage was not prepared to comment for or against. He refused to speculate on whether the council would help pay for the festivities.

    However in September 2004, when asked if he would support a return of the parade, Hubbard said: "I've got no problems with the concept of a Hero Parade, per se. Where I do have problems is with the blatant display of casual sexuality and casual sex."

    Details about next year's Hero Parade were scheduled to be made public last night but organisers delayed a formal announcement.

    But one organiser, Michael Modrich, confirmed the 2008 parade would also include Karangahape Rd and had significant support from inner-city business associations. "At this stage there is a degree of corporate support. There is a large consultative process to go, which includes securing civic funding," he said.

    The last Hero Parade in 2001 left Hero Charitable Trust creditors $142,398 out of pocket.

    Since then, the parade has been replaced by an annual dance party and outdoor festival dubbed 'The Big Gay Out'.

    42 Below is a well-known supporter of gay events, with marketing campaigns targeted at the pink dollar. It is also a backer of this year's Hero Festival, which included a gay and lesbian party last night at Auckland's St James complex.
    Ref: - NZ Herald - HERO

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