9 December 2022

Music to the ears: Wagga’s Carols in the Park is back after a three-year hiatus

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Janine Menzies

Janine Menzies shares her story of attending Carols in the Park for the first time 20 years ago. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

The Combined Churches Carols in the Park is back after a break due to COVID-19.

Carols in the Park will be held at the Victory Memorial Gardens on Saturday, 10 December, with the pre-program starting at 6 pm and the carols from 7:30 pm.

The event is hosted by Wagga Wagga Baptist Church, South Wagga Anglican Church, Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church and St Aidan’s Presbyterian Church, with support from the Salvos and Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Volunteer carols coordinator and Wagga Baptist Church member Janine Menzies teared up when she remembered the first time she attended the celebration 20 years ago.

She had just moved to Wagga with her family.

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“The cupboard was bare,” Janine recalled. “There was no food to be had out at our rental in Ladysmith.

“I went to a little fish and chip shop and on the counter, as I waited for our order, was a brochure for the Combined Churches Christmas Carols in the Victory Memorial Gardens.

“It was Christmas 2001 and we had moved to Wagga a few days before that. All our furniture had just arrived and my husband and I had spent the whole day unpacking with our three little kids.

“So we took our fish and chips and sat down amongst thousands of people. We knew nobody … we came cold turkey to Wagga.”

David Strong (Wagga Baptist Church minister), Janine Menzies, Natalie Goode, Katrina Roe, Tim Flint (Wagga Evangelical Church minister), Jon Blyth (St Aidan’s Presbyterian Church minister) and Scott Goode (South Wagga Anglican Church minister). Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Janine said it was lovely to be surrounded by people singing songs about Christmas during her family’s first week in Wagga.

Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church Senior Pastor Tim Flint also has strong memories of the event from childhood.

“It’s always been a cracking event,” Pastor Flint said. “I’m a Wagga local, so I remember as a kid running around at the carols event in the park.

”It’s always been a bit of a feature and actually felt really weird not having it for the last few years.”

South Wagga Anglican Church program director Nat Goode is thrilled to be putting on the live event again.

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“We had an online carols in 2020 and then we weren’t able to run it last year. So this is the first live one for a while,” Nat said.

“I’ve always loved Christmas and going to a carols event. I love doing this with other churches and meeting new people and working together for a common purpose.

“I love telling the true story of Christmas. So, woven through the program, there’ll be dramas and we’ll be singing the story in all of the songs.

Photo: Supplied.

”There’ll be a fun family segment, videos, and this year we have an Aussie theme woven throughout the program. I’m really excited to have a local Wiradjuri didgeridoo player this year.”

There will be family activities, entertainment and food vendors from 6 pm, with the main carols program starting at 7:30 pm.

Carols in the Park is sponsored by Region.

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