Christ­mas comes to Tu¯rangi

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

Tu¯rangi’s an­nual Christ­mas in the Park just keeps grow­ing and grow­ing.

This year’s prom­ises to be the big­gest yet, with two evenings of en­ter­tain­ment plus the tra­di­tional Christ­mas pa­rade, kids’ ac­tiv­i­ties and food stalls. Keep next week­end free for two big nights of fes­tiv­i­ties on the Ton­gariro School field. Fri­day De­cem­ber 14 from 5.30pm to 9pm is the Tu Meke Tal­ent Show’s line up of lo­cal acts, fol­lowed by a movie in the park and kai stalls. Satur­day af­ter­noon has the Santa pa­rade fol­lowed by en­ter­tain­ment from head­line acts Che Fu, The Beat Girls, J Geeks, home­town star Jack­son Owens and more.

Tan­gonui Kingi of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee says Christ­mas in the Park orig­i­nally started out as a way of sup­port­ing the Po­lice’s Pre­ven­tion First Strat­egy.

“It was one of those things that to sup­port it and get the mes­sage out there we needed a ca­pac­ity event. We quickly iden­ti­fied that hav­ing a re­ally im­por­tant and large-scale com­mu­nity event with that mes­sage as part of it would be a great recipe for suc­cess, and we’re still here to­day so ob­vi­ously it worked.”

But the event has con­tin­ued to grow and now it’s seen as the pre­miere lo­cal event on the cal­en­dar, at­tract­ing peo­ple not just from the Tu¯rangi-Ton­gariro area but from fur­ther afield too.

This isn’t the first time Christ­mas in the Park has stretched over two nights. Tan­gonui says a cou­ple of years ago a suc­cess­ful movie night was held the night be­fore the main event but it wasn’t re­peated last year. This year or­gan­is­ers de­cided to re­vive the Fri­day night event with the Tu Meke Tal­ent Show to give lo­cals the op­por­tu­nity to show off their tal­ents. They can be any­thing and are not lim­ited just to singing, danc­ing or other types of per­form­ing. So be bold, don’t hold back or be afraid to put your­self out there — or­gan­is­ers want to hear from you.

The tal­ent show is ti­tled the Tu Meke Tal­ent Quest and en­tries are still open. Tan­gonui says there are many tal­ented peo­ple in the area but in typ­i­cal Tu¯rangi style, many peo­ple are too hum­ble to put them­selves for­ward and the show needs more num­bers.

“I’m try­ing to dis­pel that think­ing that these sorts of things are only for peo­ple who can do break­danc­ing or sing re­ally well but any­one who watches tal­ent shows will un­der­stand that there’s about a zil­lion other things so it can be any­thing — the name of the game is com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion.”

The tal­ent show will be fol­lowed by some com­mu­ni­ty­fo­cused ac­tiv­i­ties and the night wraps up with a Christ­mas-themed movie.

On the Satur­day the pro­gramme is kick­ing off with the Santa pa­rade which is run­ning an hour ear­lier this year. It will start from 3pm at Tu­ranga Pl and make its way along Ohuanga Rd and through town to Ton­gariro School.

Tan­gonui says while the fi­nal pro­gramme for Satur­day is still be­ing de­vel­oped, once the pa­rade reaches the school there will be a po¯whiri to open the event, a prize­giv­ing for the floats, and then the en­ter­tain­ment will start. This year’s line-up of hip hop and R’n B star Che Fu, girl group The Beat Girls and per­for­mance Ma¯ori com­edy mu­sic group JGeeks will be joined by Tu­rangi’s own Jack­son Owens, Lost Tribe Aotearoa, DJ Munz and Te Kawar­ito Kapa Haka.

Off -stage there will be the free chil­dren’s amuse­ments and in line with Christ­mas in the Park be­ing about com­mu­nity, these are all free. Also ex­pect food stalls, in­for­ma­tion, a kauma¯tua area and the forestry dis­play.

Tan­gonui says it’s dif­fi­cult to get an accurate idea of how many peo­ple at­tend each year sim­ply be­cause they are so spread out but a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate of the num­ber at­tend­ing the Satur­day fes­tiv­i­ties has been put at be­tween 3500 and 4500 peo­ple and Tan­gonui ex­pects that over the two nights it will add up to a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber.

As well as pro­vid­ing a feel-good com­mu­nity event in the lead-up to Christ­mas, the event has eco­nomic spin-offs which are sup­ported by coun­cil data, he says.

“While we love do­ing this for our wha¯nau, for our lo­cals, we have a mas­sive in­flux of peo­ple who come be­cause they see and hear about it and buy some­thing to eat or stay some­where and the data is that it has an im­pact on lo­cal spend.”

The crowd-pleas­ing fi­nale is al­ways the fire­works at the con­clu­sion of the night, at be­tween 9.30pm and 10pm.

“We love to end on that note be­cause it’s a good way to go out and wish ev­ery­body well.”

Or­gan­is­ers have put in an or­der for fine weather and Tan­gonui says peo­ple are wel­come to bring bean­bags and low deckchairs to make them­selves com­fort­able, how­ever the fam­ily-friendly event is smoke, drug and al­co­hol free.

He says the event could not hap­pen with­out “an awe­some lit­tle group” of lo­cals who work hard to pull it to­gether ev­ery year.

“It’s a fairly well-oiled now, our event, and that’s what gives us that con­fi­dence to keep on do­ing what we’re do­ing.”

■ To en­ter the Tu Meke Tal­ent Show or en­ter a float in the Christ­mas pa­rade, go to the Face­book page Christ­mas in the Park Tu¯rangi, email Tan­gonui at [email protected] or call him on 021 253 3343.

Photo / File

Tu¯rangi’s Christ­mas in the Park runs over two evenings this year, on Fri­day De­cem­ber 14 and Satur­day De­cem­ber 15.

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