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Santa one of few still to come to party for community Christmas do

Local foodie Colin Chung will be way too busy carving spit-roasts come Christmas Day to even consider doubling up as the grand old man in red.
“I’ll be busy carving on the line,” he told the Chronicle of the festive fare planned for this year’s community feast at Raglan Town Hall. It’s become an annual event at which he and a multitude of helpers bring a spirit of goodwill and cheer to about 200 locals who might otherwise spend Christmas Day alone.

And it’s completely voluntary.

So yes, there’s still a vacancy for a Santa, says Colin, although at this stage the Christmas lamb and ham — and the Christmas tree which usually comes from a Te Mata farmer’s paddock — look already assured thanks to community generosity.

Fellow organiser Sue Oliver, who’s happy to leave the cooking and carving to Colin while she co-ordinates the team of volunteers and the donations now flooding in, confirms “we are looking for someone to put themselves forward” as Santa.

Not that she’s worried. Judging by the response from the past two years of the free community-run event “we eventually get a Santa”, she says.
Both organisers say Raglan residents look to be rallying to make this year’s community Christmas dinner even better than before.

Nobody in town, for whatever reason — whether they’re on their own, or simply can’t afford Christmas this year — needs to be miserable, Sue says.
And the invitation for this family Christmas dinner is no different from any other family invitation, she says — albeit in the town hall, with many others to help boost the festive spirit.
But the more the merrier, she insists.

“We want to get the word out there and (as a gesture of goodwill) encourage people to come.”
Sue’s partner, longtime local muso Dave Maybee, will again organise the entertainment including Christmas carols. And not only Raglan but also Hamilton businesses come up with a range of goods every year, right down to the 30 tablecloths for instance from ‘A Bit of a Do’ which prides itself on providing “exceptional presentation” whatever the occasion.

“People are so generous,” says Sue. “And we only ever ask a little of everyone.”
While some locals cater for the “decadent dessert” table, others can come in to the town hall — given free of charge by Waikato District Council — on Christmas Eve to help decorate. And there’s always a place for good old-fashioned Christmas crafts like paper chains that even the children can make.

“Raglan is full of artistic people,” Sue says. And small gifts — home-made or bought for $10 or so by those who care and have the time — ensure there’s plenty to go around.
Colin also marvels at the generosity of spirit within the community that makes it all happen. Cash donations of $100, $200, even $500 can be relied upon from locals who don’t want to be named — and these pay for extras that may not get donated directly.

“I’m not worried,” says Colin. “It all comes together.”

The Community House van will be out on the day, transporting young and old to and from the event.
It seems there’s just no excuse not to go and be part of the feel-good family Christmas.

And don’t be shy about coming, adds Sue. She asks that people call her on 825 7906 so there’s some idea of numbers being catered for.

Edith Symes

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