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Rarotonga’s annual Christmas at the Park on tonight

Thursday 14 December 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Entertainment, Features, Local, National

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Rarotonga’s annual Christmas at the Park on tonight
Santa Claus was one of the major attractions at the Rotaract Christmas in the Park event last year. SIDNEY FIMONE - ROTARACT/22121619

School pupils will be bolstering volunteer numbers at Rarotonga’s annual Christmas at the Park this year as the island community comes together to support the more than $7000 event.

Rotaract Rarotonga president Byron Brown said about 10 pupils from Apii Te Uki Ou will be running a mystery activity to raise funds for their school during the Christmas celebration at the National Auditorium on Thursday.

“A weakness from last year was not enough variety in stuff for kids to do, so we’re trialling having the kids help out,” Brown said. “We’re thinking of rotating which schools to help out each year.”

Brown said the event, which will have about 20 volunteers in addition to the pupils, is fuelled by donations from individuals and businesses and costs between $7000 and $7500 to run.

The bulk of the budget goes into fireworks, with a $4000 display lasting three minutes to cap off festivities.

The event will feature food vendors and children’s activities including Santa’s corner, face-painting, and bouncy castles.

Entertainment from Christmas carollers and groups such as Filipino performers and a cheer-leading squad will also feature.

“There will be great entertainment for the family, for the kids.”

Three large inflatable decorations – the Nutcracker, Santa with his reindeer, and an archway – have been added to the line-up of decorations Rotaract has been building over the more than 15 years the event has been running.

An assortment of decorations will be loaned out to Mitiaro and Mangaia for their own community Christmas celebrations following the event, he said.

Brown said fundraising efforts for the Rarotonga event kicked off in November with about $5000 raised.

Platinum sponsors were Maritime Cook Islands and Vodafone Cook Islands. Gold sponsors were Cook Islands News, Island Craft, and Perfumes of Rarotonga. Silver sponsors were Cook Islands Building Supplies, Nick Reeves, and CIC Ltd.

Supporting sponsors were the Ministry of Cultural Development, Puaikura Fire Brigade, Excil Shipping, Raromart, CIPS, Vonnias, Rotary Rarotonga, Moana Minerals, General Transport, Bank of the South Pacific, the Tupapa Committee, and the Tropical Christmas Committee.

“Thank you to all our sponsors, the public for coming out, our volunteers, and our performers,” Brown said.

The event will start at 5pm. Performances will start at 6pm and run until 8.30pm, before the fireworks display starts at Tupapa Field at 8.35pm.

Entry is $4 or free for under 5s.