By: Christopher Cookson
It's that time of year. The days are lengthening to the point the longest day is just around the corner, and the temperature encourages the use of such Kiwi icons as Jandals, short shorts, and singlets, or something similar. In a weird juxtaposition, retail outlets are filled with cheery music celebrating snow and sleighs, while rotund bearded figures dressed up in bright red high visibility thermals fitting of a visit to Scott Base in Antarctica encourage New Zealanders to cultivate their gardens with the cry of “Hoe, Hoe, Hoe”, or something like that.
Here in Marlborough, one of the traditions of the season, is Christmas in the Park, a family friendly concert in Pollard Park organised by the Blenheim Christian Ministers' Association with the support of a number of generous sponsors. This is something Marlborough can be proud of. In the history of Christianity, interdenominational cooperation hasn't always been what it should have been given that Jesus told his disciples to love one another regardless of their differences. Seeing an event organised for the community by the leaders of all local church denominations is something worth celebrating. Perhaps, although numerically church congregations tend to be in decline in New Zealand, Christians are getting better at living up to their name.
Although organised by church leaders, 2018's event provided plenty of secular musical entertainment in addition to traditional Christian carols, and as many varieties of bouncy castle to entertain the kids as I've ever seen gathered in one place in Blenheim. Good, free, family entertainment at a time of the year when things can get pretty stressful is actually something I think Jesus would have approved of. Jesus is on record scolding his disciples for trying to drive away some children who wanted to see him, because the disciples thought he had more important things to do. Santa hadn't yet been invented, and apparently kids thought Jesus was pretty cool. Jesus told the adults that the key to heaven was being more child-like. I can just picture him joining some of the many kids at Christmas in the Park on a bouncy castle.
A good variety of local and national entertainers kept the music flowing, from our own award winning Marlborough District Brass Band to former NZ Idol winner, Ben Lummis. Local Māori culture was represented with a kapa haka group, and a Vanuatu group demonstrated once again that they are as dedicated to their music as they are keeping Marlborough's vineyards in good shape.
Lots of Marlburians of all ages were out in force to enjoy the event, forming a large and vibrant crowd. Given the warm weather, it appears the all important icecream truck, and several other snack providers did an roaring trade, as revealed by some rather sticky young faces. As a parent myself, I've learned that to ensure peace, harmony, and goodwill to all humanity, ie all those things people bring up at Christmas, children need to be both entertained and fed, and Christmas in the Park ensured that it delivered on both counts.
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