‘Back to normal’: Crowds ‘joyous’ to celebrate Canberra Day 2022 | The Canberra Times


Commonwealth Park was even more joyful than usual on Monday. There was curry, ramen and crepes – helped down by beer, coffee and spirits. On raised stages, singers sung, actors acted, dancers danced, drummers drummed and poets spoke under sunny skies. Stalls offered more than just food – with painting and calligraphy classes among the workshops on offer. But the most jarring part of the entire event was the people. MORE CANBERRA DAY READS: Unmasked strangers eating around each other; laughing and talking. Singing, dancing and celebrating. Canberra is quickly seeing the return of major events following eased restrictions, with some families – like the Cowies – braving the crowds for the first time since lockdown. Melissa Cowie said it felt like Canberra was “finally getting back to a little bit of normal”, while eight-year-old Chelsea was just happy to have some ice-cream. Mother-of-two Naomi Fallon said it was “amazing” to finally take her little ones out and about. “It’s nice to be back with other people again,” she said. “To just be able to show our kids things like these, after such a long period of being in lockdown, is nice.” Parents Sarah and Gellert Szabo also said that with the sun out and people about, it felt like life was getting back to usual. “It just feels normal again really, being around these large groups of people and just enjoying the stalls,” Mr Szabo said. The sentiment was shared by Alamela Rowan. She was happy to eat curry and watch multicultural performances, without having to worry about her mask or keep a distance. “It’s good to be able to walk into a place and have a lot of people and not have to wear a face mask, or having to be aware of how close people are to you,” she said. Rachel Low accompanied her friend Kim Chu to the festivities. She said it was “relaxing” and “joyous” to be out among the celebrations. “It’s wonderful. It’s so joyous, and the weather is good today so we’re very lucky,” she said. “It’s so relaxing, because there are dances from different countries and you can enjoy [them]. “Afterwards we’ll walk around and get in as much as possible from this beautiful day today and enjoy ourselves.” Ms Chu said the day had been “beautiful”. “It’s so beautiful. We’re in a very good spot, with the fountain in the background. We’re having a good time,” she said. This year’s event had a multicultural theme. Celtic dancers played bagpipes in kilts; amateur poets recited works on stage created during an earlier workshop; young Palestinian-Australian children enacted at a traditional wedding on stage. The excitement in the air was also felt by the musicians and dancers themselves, finally able to perform after Canberra’s arts scene was essentially brought to a halt by lockdowns. Catherine Chen said she could feel the energy from the crowd. “It’s so great to see a lot of people coming together again, so we are very excited for this,” she said. IN OTHER NEWS: Mohammed Shtaiwi said while the National Multicultural Festival was canceled last year, this was an opportunity to celebrate Canberra’s diversity. Mr Shtaiwi’s daughter was one of the entertainers, performing a traditional Palestinian wedding through acting and dancing. “I think it is nice for kids – and everyone – to know what is the Palestinian tradition in weddings,” he said. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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