As you drive down the hill, the local park is buzzing, there are purple and green balloons everywhere, bouncy castles, lots of stalls, a mass of people and something happening in the middle of the park. “Can we stop Dad? Can we please? It's the children's day thingy that was in the school newsletter.”
The family stops and become part of the 1200+ people who participated in Children's Day 'Fun in the Park' Dunedin, 2011.
Children's Day – 'Fun in the Park' is a community event that Flagstaff Union and Kaikorai Presbyterian organized to celebrate National Children's Day (held on the first Sunday in March).
2011 was the 3rd consecutive year we have hosted this event, it is held in a local park and begins with an outdoor church service (10:30-11 am 'ish') which is then followed by the opening of the local stalls, activities and entertainment. (11:15- 3pm)
The church service is very 'child/family friendly' with a live band, children participating by playing percussion instruments and following the action songs. The talk is aimed at children too with visuals and action. An offering is taken for a couple of nominated agencies who work with children and families. Both churches promoted this service in the park instead of their regular morning service at that time and there was a large attendance from all ages. This year we were reminded that by holding a church service 'outside' not only were we engaging with those on the forms in front of us but also witnessing and saying 'this is what church looks like' to the those surrounding us who were setting up stalls and activities.
Stalls and activities range from the commercial fair type activity (merry go round, ride on cars) and food vendors (hot dogs, coffee) to local stall holders (home based businesses and local schools, kindergartens providing sausage sizzles, jumble tables, new and 2nd hand clothing and toys).
Free or low cost activities (20 or 50c) were a priority for our own churches' stalls (20c) e.g. a craft tent, bouncy castle, horizontal bungy, face painting, lucky dip to name a few.
Competitions were run prior to and on the day. This year the theme for Children's Day was 'Love and Affection', so we had a poem writing competition and a colouring competition. On the day we ran a handshake competition, that needed to have more than 5 moves but less than 20. Prizes are donated by very generous business owners around the town and ranged from a family trip on Otago Harbour in the 'Monarch' ($150 approx) to a free swim from the local pool or video vouchers.
The local radio 'Classic Hits' morning hosts came along and used a roving microphone throughout the day. They encouraged people to participate in the Centre Ring activities such as a pre-school music and movement session, a Zumba session and Sport Otago games. There were also tours of the fire station across the road and a police patrol vehicle was on the park for children to sit in and turn on the lights and siren.
This year we also had a free activity where anybody could put their painted handprint on a large heart to show our love and affection for those in Christchurch affected by the earthquake. We managed to fill up 2 large banners and have sent them up to Christchurch.
So why do we do this? We do this because it's such a great way to:
- Work in partnership with our neighbouring church
- Gather up all those connections we have made in different groups and invite them along to a great event
- To offer something to the families in our community that is accessible both financially and geographically
- To show God's love to our community
Flagstaff Union Parish