Thousands of smiling kids packed the WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday for the annual KidzWish Children’s Christmas Party.
Greg Page, the original Yellow Wiggle, took the 4,300 Illawarra and South Coast children (who are sick, disadvantaged or have a disability) on a Christmas adventure with a raft of Disney characters also stopping by.
So Popera Productions (run by Albion Park family the Copelands) brought a segment of their upcoming show Beauty and the Beast to life before the biggest celebrity arrived.
As soon as the audience were aware Santa Claus was visiting from the North Pole, the stadium shook and was filled with the sound of excited screaming children, waving flashing rainbow mini-lightsabers as has as they could.
Dane Aronsten, 7, high-fived the man in the big red suit as he entered the auditorium via police escort.
It was the first time to the concert for Dane, who came with 12 other classmates from the Nazareth Catholic Primary School Learning Centre.
“I love Santa,” he said, of the man who’s greater than any popstar in his eyes.
Teacher support aid Sylvia Johnston-Zammit said the annual charity party was a great opportunity for her special needs class to interact with music, dancing and each other.
More than 400 volunteers took part to assist in making the children’s day including Lauren Perry, 16, from Jamberoo who was dressed as a fairy.
“I love seeing all the faces on the kids and seeing them so happy,” Miss Perry said of volunteering for four years in a row.
KidzWish was founded in 1999 by Chris Bevan with its first Christmas party only hosting around 300 people.
That number has grown to 4,300 children with a waiting list of more than 1,100, with a cost of $250,000 to put on the event.
KidzWish marketing manager Karouna Micheal said the Children’s Christmas Party was an event where “kids be kids” and where they are surrounded by support, love and laughter.
“[It] represents a caring side to the Illawarra with an important message of KidzWish will never let our children walk alone.”
Each child that attended the party received a free lunch and a Christmas present.
This year more than 20,000 chicken nuggets, 3,000 juice and water pop tops and 3,000 ice-creams were packed for lunch time.
The KidzWish Foundation also help Illawarra and South Coast families by providing support with speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, an appeals program, music and dance program and sports academy program.
While the organisation is now a registered NDIS Service Provider.