The annual Stockland KidzWish Christmas Party put smiles on the faces of 4300 special needs children and carers who packed WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday.
Cinderella took to the stage alongside the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, while Mrs Claus watched on as her husband Santa arrived in style on the back of a police motorbike.
KidzWish executive director Chris Beaven believed it was the best show KidzWish had put on.
‘‘I think they liked it better than any other one. They were singing, they were clapping, they were doing everything,’’ Mrs Beaven said.
KidzWish marketing manager Karouna Micheal said the Christmas party was also a time to educate families on the services the charity provided year-round.
‘‘It’s a bitter-sweet thing to know there are this many children in the Illawarra that are sick, disabled and disadvantaged. Yes, it’s a great party but also on the flipside, [it’s important] to know that there’s all these services that these children need,’’ he said.
‘‘KidzWish is there so children don’t fall through the gaps. We’re set up to make sure we provide the services for the children the government aren’t providing.’’
Jane Townsend’s sons Patrick, 7, and Shaun, 5, are involved in a range of KidzWish programs including Sports Academy and music and dance programs.
‘‘It means so much to the kids. They’re part of KidzWish and it’s just a huge day for them,’’ Mrs Townsend said.
As one of hundred of volunteers required on Thursday, no-one knows better than Rose Nightingale just what KidzWish means to many families across the Illawarra. A volunteer for the last 11 years, Mrs Nightingale believes the presents at the end of the show are a highlight for the children.
‘‘They enjoy the meals and the show and also the presents for Christmas because some of them might not be getting much,’’ she said.