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What A Whopper!

The Napkin Diaries - By Paula Pistol

What a Whopper!

There I was on Sunday in Island Bay, bopping along to Koa’s tunes with Wanda Martini, Sarah Barr, Gita Mann and a beaming, cheerful crowd, high on Lothlorien’s sparkling feijoa wine and the whole Whopper Chopper experience.
And so another season of the crazy, carnivalistic beach parties came to an end.

The Fringe, the Cuba Street Carnival and Festival 2002 are upon us, but I’d like to muse here for a few paragraphs on what makes the Whopper Chopper experience so special. There are a few very good reasons, when I sit down to think about it.

Three of the four Choppers are held on a Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I do have problems with finding anything to “do” on a Sunday. Saturdays you get invited to barbecues, weddings, parties, gigs and good shopping jaunts. But Sundays are tricky. Do I spend the whole day doing the washing when it’s the last day of the weekend? Or do I tackle a bigger project because I have the whole day – like scrubbing the skirting boards or pretending I can actually paint a canvas? Whopper Chopper is the answer because it’s one big, long distraction full of people I want to see. Before I know it, I’m in bed with a book and Sunday’s over.

The Choppers are held just a bus or ferry ride away. Living in central Wellington without a car can make a girl go a little stir-crazy in the height of summer. The buildings sway woozily towards you, the pavement sticks, the vomit on Courtenay Place on a Sunday morning is a tad more pungent. So it’s a pleasure to be able to jump on public transport with a blanket tucked under one arm and a bottle of feijoa bubbles under the other and be at a fantastic daylight party within minutes.

Whopper Chopper gets people dancing, and that ain’t a bad thing. DJs and odd live combinations of local musicians manage to get enough people shaking their booty that Wellington’s beaches resemble a 1950s surf movie crossed with a 1980s “frat party” flick. I did particularly enjoy, at the Princess Bay Chopper, Demarnia Lloyd and the Twinset (wigged up as the “Astral Afronauts”) dub-down Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. I'm enjoying dancing in front of other people in broad daylight so much, I'll be dancing in Civic Square on Thursday evening for the Fringe launch.

But I have to say, my favourite thing about Whopper Chopper is that it’s brilliantly designed for kids of all ages. While local restaurants may not welcome groovy children because their current tavern licenses won’t allow it, Whopper Chopper welcomes one and all. The dress-up competitions have adults’ and kids’ categories; the other crazy competitions are designed to appeal to a kid’s sense of the fantastical; and there are some things at Whopper Chopper that only kids can do (damn it if I didn’t want to get my arse onto that enormous blow-up tropical wave slide).

As childless as my little group is, we are all aunties and godparents and flatmates of great Wellingtonians with excellent kids who shouldn’t be confined to Lollypops Playland or the playground in some nasty takeaway “restaurant”. So I celebrate Whopper Chopper! Thank you for what you do for the Capital’s kids!

Now, is it possible to get a late night one for grown-ups next year, and can we please have the blow-up slide??!)

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