GALLERY: Bright lights and ruby slippers at KidzWish show

Dorothy arrived at the back of the entertainment centre, unnoticed at first among the crowd.

She wore her trademark plaits and gingham, and carried a wicker basket with a real, live dog inside, playing the role of Toto.

It was Butch, the chihuahua - best friend of little Noah Southall.

"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high," sang Dorothy, on the stage now.

"There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby."

Noah, an 11-year-old boy from Koonawarra and a prominent ambassador for Illawarra's children's charity KidzWish, died on October 22, about four weeks before the charity's annual Christmas show.

His passing - and that of other sick and disabled children from the region - was recognised at the show yesterday, but it was not a time for sadness.

Some 4300 special children, siblings and carers look forward to the event each year and when it arrived spirits ran high.

The charity spends $200,000 on all the trimmings; a decent gift for every child, McDonald's lunch and a gift bag with all the essentials: chocolate, chips, cookies and a whirling, light-up toy.

Performers from around the region contribute to the pantomime - The Wizard of Oz, this year - with dance and song.

The tired kids can nap in their wheelchairs and no-one stares at the restless ones who get out of their chairs to move or lie on the floor for a while.

Eight-year-old Emily Green, who has Down syndrome and doesn't like heights, was seated not too far up in the stands, alongside her two brothers and mother, Michelle Green.

It was a rare outing for the family, said Mrs Green.

"[Emily] doesn't like to sit for too long, but it's lovely today because everyone's in the same position," she said.

The arrival of Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, drew applause from Jack Coleman, who sat on his grandmother Jill Coleman's lap in the front row.

"He's been talking about it for weeks," Ms Coleman said.

Noah Southall was diagnosed with the rare condition Proteus syndrome 12 months after he was born.

KidzWish gave him Butch about two years ago, granting his wish to own a dog.

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