The children’s play project I work for operates throughout the year, with the two weeks over Christmas being the only long period when we’re closed. This break allows all the staff to have a proper rest. But before we could all relax and let Christmas take over, there was one last day of work, and it was a big one.
Our adventure playground was transformed into a Winter Wonderland complete with a real ice rink, a thirty-foot inflatable bouncy snowman, circus performers, face painters and a festive feast. At our nature garden a wintery trail led to Santa’s grotto where Father Christmas was handing out gifts.
Everything was free, and inclusive, and almost 600 local people came together to celebrate with us.
It was a truly lovely day. I was kept busy coordinating all the volunteers and interviewing our guests. Here’s a taste of what they said:
“The atmosphere is lovely and all you can hear is laughter.”
“Bouncing in the snowman made me feel like I was floating.”
“It gets everyone from the community together, people with and without disability can come and be together, have fun and socialise.”
“It’s very important to have events where everyone comes together. London is a multicultural place so having a chance to be together and meet your neighbours is really lovely.”
At the end of the event there was a fire-juggling display and an awards ceremony recognising the achievements of children, young people and members of the local community. One of the children I spoke to summed it up best when she said:
“There are lots of words to describe what’s happening today but I’d just say it’s a wonderful place.”
Now, though, I’m off to bed because a day of working in the Wonderland has left me well and truly ready to sleep.
“Mind control to Major Christmas.”