Bells and belles for Armistice

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Sunday’s centenary of the end of World War I will be marked by church bell-peeling and steamship-tooting in Queenstown and a service/wreath-laying and picnic/concert in Arrowtown.

The WW100 organisation has encouraged centenary events to echo the ‘Roaring Chorus’ of noise around NZ that greeted news of the armistice on November 11, 1918.

Queenstown’s St Peter’s Anglican Church is holding an Armistice Centenary service, starting 10.50am.

After a two-minute silence at 11am, vicar-elect David Wright says there’ll be “drums, trumpets, dustbin lids and anything that people want to bring to make a noise”, accompanied by the ringing of the church bell.

After that, the bell will continue ringing for 12 more peels.

Wright says the day means a lot to him as he lost both grandfathers in the war and four uncles in WWII.

“The fact we can enjoy this peace, this beauty, this serenity, simply traces back to the fact so many people made that ultimate sacrifice.”

The names of the Wakatipu’s WWI victims will also be read out.

Meanwhile, the Earnslaw will join in the ‘Roaring Chorus’ by tooting its horn to recreate what its predecessor steamship, the Ben Lomond, did 100 years earlier.

In Arrowtown, the Returned and Services’ Association will host a major district-wide wreath-laying ceremony by the Soldiers Hill cenotaph at 11am, along with a service.

Then from 2.30 till 6pm there’ll be a free community picnic and concert on Library Green – spontaneous picnics also greeted the declaration of peace in 1918.

Entertainers will include the Buckingham Belles, Miners Band, Arrowtown School kapa haka group, Queenstown Jazz Orchestra and The Crown Rangers.

People are asked to bring food, drink and deck chairs – if wet, the event will be held at the Athenaeum Hall.

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