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Christmas in the Park | Krishan Gallage | Auckland

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

On December 3rd, 2023, the Auckland Netball Stadium turned into a magical Christmas wonderland as over a thousand Sri Lankans gathered for the most significant Christmas in the Park event ever. The day began at 3:30 pm with traditional music, and Dimithri and Nilukshi, the lively MCs, invited the president of the United Sri Lankan Association (USLA) and sponsors to light the oil lamp, signalling the start of a joyful celebration. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement, offering free music, a delicious Christmas dinner, and a variety of authentic flavours from different vendors.

The Christmas dinner showcased efficiency and community spirit. Five food outlets, thanks to the hardworking food servers, served the entire dinner in under 30 minutes—an impressive record-breaking achievement that amazed everyone. Generosity took centre stage as sponsors went the extra mile, offering draws with prizes such as an electric car, a brand-new BBQ, a 50-inch TV, and twenty gift vouchers worth $40 each. Big Santa’s arrival, accompanied by professionally sung Christmas carols, delighted hundreds of children who eagerly received lollies as a sweet treat. The spirit of giving continued with thousands of gifts for participants of all ages, including the Christmas 5-raffle tradition, where lucky winners received $50 each, thanks to the kindness of Dr. Gabriel.

The highlight of the day was the raffle draw for a beautiful car donated by Stirling Cars. The lucky winner, overjoyed, walked away with the keys. President Rasika Harsichandra expressed her joy at the event’s grand success and reiterated USLA’s commitment to providing free events and services to Sri Lankans on an even larger scale in the future. She invited everyone to join upcoming events, including the highly anticipated cultural extravaganza, Hela Mihira. Attendees were encouraged to use the occasion to connect, build relationships, and explore opportunities for mutual support.

It was an amazing family get together thanks to the USLA committee for maintaining an alcohol-free environment, ensuring a family-friendly atmosphere. Volunteers from the SLNZ Helpline provided crucial support, highlighting the community’s collaborative spirit. The Christmas dinner, a display of Sri Lankan culinary excellence, left attendees enchanted. Children enjoyed bouncy castles all day, and the park echoed with fantastic music performed by local musicians.

The festivities, spanning over seven hours, ended at 10:30 pm with the Sri Lankan national anthem. The resounding success of the event has left everyone amazed, solidifying its place as a cherished tradition in the Sri Lankan community in Auckland. Attendees praised this colossal event, making it the most significant Christmas in the Park celebration in history.

By Krishan Gallage – Auckland

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