Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Fun in the City

On Friday, I packed the little people in car and headed to the city for dinner and a concert. As we are nearly half way through November and there is no Thanksgiving to think about here in Australia (they don't celebrate that), Christmas preparations are in full swing. The Melbourne City Council has already hung the Christmas decorations in the city and slated Friday evening for the offical Tree Lighting Ceremony and Concert. The event was held in City Square in the City and it was free!

After seeing an ad on a tram advertising Melbourne as the "City of Christmas" with reference to the City's helpful website, I decided to have a look and see what was on. Lucky I had a squiz when I did because this free concert was on the following night! I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the list of performers that would be on hand to entertain the kiddies: Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, the Christmas Divas, Christmas Rappers, Greg Page (the former Yellow Wiggle), the Australian Children's Choir, and wait for it...HIGH FIVE!! Oh yeah, and the big man himself--Santa Claus. An unbeatable combination of all my kid's favourites. It was obvious where we'd be on Friday night.

We started with dinner on Swanston street at Meekong Vietnamese restaurant. This used to be one of my old haunts when I first came to Melbourne as a poor student. The food was always really good and reasonably priced. Since then we've discovered another favourite Vietnamese place on Victoria Street in Richmond. So dinner at Meekong was a bit disappointing in comparison to what we've become accustomed to on Victoria Street. The kids loved their spring rolls though and we were in and out quickly. Those were all positives.

We made our way down Swanston St to City Square where a crowd had already assembled in anticipation of the concert and tree lighting. There were lots of families with small children and heaps of International students who attend the City's various Unis. I think they were as keen on the concert as the three and four year olds in the crowd. It was an interesting mix.

The large Christmas tree towered behind the stage and waited patiently for dusk when it would be lit. In the meantime, a whole flock of Santa's helpers ran out from behind the stage and began to work the crowd. They were all jolly little characters with plenty of enthusiasm. The kids loved them.
Then an elf on steroids emerged from behind the stage.
He was literally larger than life. I think the kids were a bit spooked by him. But folks, I'm here to tell you, the ladies LOVED him! I saw no less than 10 or 12 different attractive 20 or 30 somethings stop and ask him to pose for a photo with them. Amazing. Who would have thought the Michelin man of the elf world would be such a chick magnet?Look at the ladies lining up to have their photo op with the big guy in the elf suit. Or little guy in the big elf suit? I'm not sure.The large elf man certainly wasn't a Brad Pitt lookalike or it must have been the suit. Yes, the ladies love a man in a suit.

After the giant elf drama, we were treated to a bit of moving and groovin with Mr. Fix It himself--Bob the Builder.The kids went nuts for Bob and his sidekick Wendy. As they all sang along, "Can we fix it? YES WE CAN!" I started to wonder if Barak Obama had stolen a bit of inspiration from the king of the hard hat. Hmmm...something to ponder.

Next it was Angelina Ballerina's turn to wow the crowd. If there is something four year old girls love, it's a mouse in a tutu. Ours is no exception. Angelina was warmly welcomed.It couldn't be all about the kids though, they needed a bit of entertainment for the adults as well. Enter the Christmas Divas looking very much like bright sparkly Christmas baubles themselves.
Apparently four year old girls also love pretty young women in sparkly dresses. So do two year old boys. Ours was flirting shamelessly with the Christmas Divas when they later left the stage to mingle with the crowd.

Following the Christmas Divas we were treated to a bit of Christmas "rapping". I was a bit put off by their puffy vests, but these guys could hold a tune.There was an intermission. It was nearly 9pm. The Handsome Australian began to wonder if they were ever going to light the tree. The kids were hanging out to see High Five. They weren't going to leave until they'd seen them in all their glittering wonder. So we waited. Then finally, they took the stage and the crowd (who should have probably all been in bed an hour before) erupted! They were so excited.Unfortunately I got caught up in the excitement as well. So this is the best photo I got. Sorry to all the loyal High Five fans out there. I'll try to do better next time. After High Five performed, they brought on a recent finalist from this season's series of Australian Idol. She had a beautiful voice, but we were spent. The kids used their last bit of gas to dance and sing with High Five. We had to pack up and go. It was a quarter past nine and the tree still sat in the dark.

Not sure when they were actually going to light it. As we walked to our car, our four year old declared, "That was the best night in the City of my entire life."

It was a pretty good night. That's Melbourne for ya--fun, free and festive!


Annelise said...

That looks like so much fun! And your blog addressed all my concerns (the elf who was ginormously scary and the vests tht were just pitiful!). I like to think that you were right in the sense that Obama had a little inspiration from Bob the builder. That is too funny.
What time did the tree finally get lit?
And how cute that the little princess declared that the best night of her life. Love that little girl! Too cute!!

Dana said...

I'm sure there will be a visit back to see the tree lit in all its splendor. Sounds like a wonderful family outing. Glad the HA got to enjoy also.

suzinoz said...

No idea when they lit the tree Annelise. We left after 9pm and it was still sitting in the dark. It will remain a mystery!

Nathalie said...

Who would have thought all this was going on in our backyard. Well done for making the most of our city, I should start doing the same. I can just picture the flirtatious little one in amongst the ladies. He could melt anyones heart.

suzinoz said...

Nathalie--There is so much happening in the City now and through summer. Check out the website for more details. I really love Melbourne this time of year! As for the little fellow...he's a lady killer!

Annelise said...

I am still disturbed by the ginormous elf!!!!!!!!!!

suzinoz said...

Really Annelise? I thought you were always looking for a tall man?