Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters paid a brief visit to her home town on Sunday and received a rapturous welcome from the locals of Sedgefield and Knysna, who honoured her with a private lunch at Montecello restaurant hosted by the Knysna Municipality, followed by the biggest street parade the town has ever seen.
As the organisation mandated to do destination marketing for Greater Knysna, Knysna Tourism and its Sedgefield office was heavily involved in planning the events, says Chairperson Elmay Bouwer.
“We were involved from the beginning because it was important for the image of the town to have a successful event and to maximise the exposure for Sedgefield and the area by inviting local, regional and national media to give us pre-event publicity and attend the lunch and parade.
“Our Sedgefield Tourism office manager Belinda Hobson was very active on the planning committee and our Knysna office put together a stunning float for the parade, which aimed to promote the Naturally Knysna brand. It featured a natural forest and was assembled on a flatbed truck kindly supplied by Knysna Motor Strippers, with the help of SANParks, who provided a bakkie load of cut ferns and fynbos, Trees South Africa who loaned us seven large indigenous trees, and models from Ace Models (where Demi launched her modelling career) and local children who wore beautiful head dresses made from indigenous vegetation by floral designer Erika van der Berg.
“We were supported by locals and in turn we supported locals - local graphic designer Dom Morel created our flags and banners, photographer Elle Redman was appointed to shoot the events, and blogger Rose Bilbrough covered the events on social media,” said Bouwer.
“I think that much of the success of the parade can be attributed to the participation of the whole community. So many people from both Sedgefield and Knysna and from as far as George and Oudshoorn put so much effort into making floats and banners and signs and creating a festive, carnival atmosphere. It was so well attended - not just by VIPs but by the whole community.”
After the parade there was a short ceremony at which Executive Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies bestowed the Freedom of the Town of Sedgefield on Demi-Leigh, who then handed out autographed pictures of herself to her fans and spent some time posing for selfies and photographs with the adoring public.