The weather did not stop the Wanaka community from welcoming Christmas to town last Friday. With the threat of thunderstorms, the Landmark Homes Lighting of the Christmas Tree ceremony of the community’s 7.3m-tall Christmas tree was moved from the lawn of Wanaka Hotel into the Lake Wanaka Centre with guests filling the space and another hundred of them enjoying the festivities outside by the tree.
The event organiser, Jennifer (Jen) Anderson, along with Wanaka’s Kahlarni Hondelink, grandson to Department of Conservation’s Paul Hondelink who passed away in a helicopter crash near Wanaka in October, lit the tree this year.
“I had a theme of lighting the tree for absent family and friends this year after having been such a tough year for losing people in tragic accidents,” said Anderson. The town’s self-proclaimed Christmas fairy said this will be her last time donning the holiday organiser hat as she is passing on the torch next season.
The community partook in the Christmas cheer through a range of support between Christmas tree installation to local musical groups and artists performing Christmas carols and other songs to the guests.Anderson said, “I want to thank those who gave generously on Friday night for three of our emergency services; we raised $750 to go to St John [Ambulance], Fire Brigade Crash Unit and LandSAR [search and rescue].