95-year-old volunteer a shining light at TSB Festival of Lights

29 December 2017

Dorothy Anderson retired 34 years ago. 

But the 95-year-old former New Plymouth teacher loves giving something back to her community, so helps out each summer with the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC)-run TSB Festival of Lights which attracts about 125,000 people over the holiday season.

She’s now the longest-serving volunteer at the Pukekura Park festival which is 50 nights of free, live music, family fun and spectacular lights, contributing about $4.7 million to the Taranaki economy (source Venture Taranaki).

“It’s lovely to see the kids’ faces light up and it’s so much fun for families.  It’s a great chance to meet people from around the world. I believe as people get older it’s important to reach out with voluntary work to keep people interested in their community,” say Dorothy.

When volunteering at the Festival, she works at the desk near the Fountain Lake and always finds it interesting to chat with locals and those from further afield.  “I’ve just spoken to a French couple who are in New Zealand for a year,” she says. 

Getting to know people from across the world has been one of her passions all her life. She’s been a volunteer with Friendship Force which has enabled her to visit more than 26 countries – including Mongolia and many parts of South America. 

“In addition to our NPDC staff who work on the TSB Festival of Lights, we have some 50 volunteers helping out whose passion, like Dorothy’s, is the lifeblood of our community and is priceless. We thank them for working tirelessly and giving their time freely,” says NPDC External Relations Manager Jacqueline Baker.

Volunteers don’t need any experience but a friendly attitude is important. NPDC has enough volunteers for this season’s festival but phone 06-759 6060 or go to festivaloflights.nz/contact/ to find out more about helping at next season’s festival.

Festival fast facts:
Last season’s festival added nearly $4.7 million in value to the Taranaki economy and brought in 8,000 visitors to New Plymouth. 
The lighting route is 3.5 kilometres of walkways through Pukekura Park.
The TSB tunnel of Light on Poet’s bridge includes 1000 LED light points and more than 150 hours of design and development time.
The lights are on for about 50 nights.
It takes about six weeks to install all the lights and cabling through the park for the festival.