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Box Hill Corps raises the roof with Chinese New Year fireworks display


RIGHT: Alison Wishart, Kathy Xu and Captain Karyn Wishart express their delight at the festival’s fireworks launched from the rooftop of their Box Hill Corps building. BOTTOM LEFT: Box Hill Salvos at their stall.

BY LERISSE SMITH

Joyous screams of delight echoed through the air at Melbourne’s Box Hill Corps recently as thousands gazed upon a vibrant display of colourful fireworks shooting from its rooftop as part of this year’s Chinese Lunar New Year Festival.


More than 120,000 people flocked to the Asian Business Association of Whitehorse’s X Golden Age Box Hill Chinese Lunar New Year Festival on 17 February to pay homage to centuries of tradition with the inaugural fireworks piercing the sky with colour and finesse.


For Box Hill Salvos, the all-day festival provided a fantastic opportunity to erect a marquee and connect with the local community through their outreach community stall.


“When our churches get committed to moving outside our buildings back into the marketplace, that genuine connection with people sees people wanting to connect with the inside of our church because we’ve intentionally engaged their heart and mind,” said Captain Karyn Wishart, Box Hill Corps Officer.


“We had a marquee where corps people were able to connect with people from the community. We had kids’ games and made lanterns with the children, which allowed us to communicate God’s big story.”


Further attracting the crowds was the corps’ café, open to connect with passers-by, plus two performances featured at its carpark by the Cloud Concert Youth Orchestra and Bloom Dance School.


The Cloud Concert Youth Orchestra performing.

Karyn said it was wonderful to have a young lady come to their worship the day after the festival as she wanted to know more about The Salvation Army and hoped they would see her again at church.


The free festival was an immersive journey into the heart of Chinese culture.

The dynamic artistry of lion dances and dragon dances were among the festival’s numerous attractions throughout the day, filled with enchanting performances, a vast array of culinary delights and joyous celebrations that paid homage to centuries of tradition.


The Asian Business Association of Whitehorse Inc. President, Bihong Wang, and Vice President, Richard Shi, managed the huge festival together with its committee members and supported by the title sponsor Golden Age Group.


Richard said this year was the first time for the fireworks with sponsorship from Lexus of Blackburn.


“The Salvation Army’s Box Hill Corps was so supportive and generous in allowing us to shoot fireworks from the building,” he said. “It was a testament to their generosity.”


The festival attracted thousands of people to Box Hill.

The festival has run for the past 21 years, and it took six months to prepare for this year’s event due to a relocation because of construction works by Southern Rail Loop.


Mr Shi said the Chinese New Year celebration of the Chinese culture was for everyone.

“We wanted to showcase our culture and a festive vibe to the local community and free entertainment, something for families to do,” he said.


“The main aim of the Chinese New Year is to represent family, good health and prosperity. For us, it’s a chance to help cultures connect. We find that when culture connects and people from different backgrounds have an understanding of each other, peace and prosperity are possible.

 

“We showcased our cultural hospitality and gave a chance for people of Asian and Chinese backgrounds to connect with Australia’s diverse culture of nations. It was testament to the real inclusiveness and diversity the festival represented and the people who were involved. After COVID and cost of living issues and many other issues in the community, it was a great chance for people to enjoy themselves.”


The fireworks display from the roof of Box Hill Corps was the highlight of the night.

The event welcomed attendees of all ages to partake in the festivities, offering a great opportunity for families to create cherished memories. Its many attractions displayed vibrant dragon dances and a mesmerising array of cultural performances that highlighted the richness and diversity of the Chinese heritage and the intricate beauty of traditional Chinese costumes that came to life on stage.


There were six separate lion dance performances. Each lion dance had firecrackers attached to it, plus two dragon dance performances throughout the day. The main stage had 10 hours of programming, with an opening ceremony featuring dignitaries from the local council and State Government. Various cultural performances by many dance schools and orchestras were also featured.


Richard said this year’s event moved from Whitehorse Rd to Bank St and presented a blank canvas for the association to connect with major stakeholders such as The Salvation Army, Box Hill Institute, Box Hill Town Hall and Library. It was also the first year, so many stakeholders were heavily involved in the event.


He also added being inclusive was a top priority for the Asian Business Association of Whitehorse – there was no rule to be a member of the association.


“As long as they are a positive addition, we fully welcome people with open arms,” Richard said.


Being inclusive is also a top priority for Box Hill Corps. The corps runs intercultural ministries and has many Mandarin and Korean-speaking congregation members, making up one-third of the growing church. The church also has an intercultural worker to assist with English and conversational classes on Thursdays.

 

Bible studies for Korean and Mandarin-speaking church members are also held, and during worship, the church has translations of the service in Mandarin and Korean. When it comes to Scripture, the corps also aims to have three translations – Korean, Mandarin and English.


Click through the slideshow below (arrow on right of image) to view more photos of the festival.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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