Salvos create a festival atmosphere at the Adelaide Zoo
By CLIFF WORTHING
Creating a festival atmosphere again proved a winner for The Salvation Army in Adelaide, with a record 3000 people attending the annual Twilight Zoo Festival on 18 March.
The night included cultural dances, musicians, prizes, Disney princesses, a human butterfly and Shieldy, The Salvation Army mascot.
“This is a community-focused missional event that enabled The Salvation Army in South Australia to connect with people from all walks of life,” said Liv Hateley, Events Coordinator, SA/NT Mission Support Team.
“Connecting through music, nature, Disney princesses and conversation – energised by popcorn, lollipops and fairy floss – created an absolutely incredible atmosphere.”
It was the third year the SA/NT Division Mission Department organised the Twilight Zoo Festival. Adults paid $10 per ticket, but children under 18 were free, making it affordable for many families.
Many attendees commented that it was the first time in many years they could afford to go to the zoo and thanked the Salvos for paying particular attention to the children.
“Thank you so much. It was a great experience. These kinds of things are so financially out of reach for so many families now. It’s a wonderful opportunity for many,” said one parent, Leah.
Meg Webb, CALD Missional Development Lead, Intercultural and Disability Inclusion Team, organised cultural groups such as the Ukrainian and Bhutanese-Kirat communities as well as a faith community whose members are from Burundi, Congo and Ethiopia to perform with dancing and singing.
Pride in their respective cultures and wishing to showcase them to the community was an important motivation behind performing at the zoo festival.
“We loved being here, seeing the wonder on the children’s faces, and how happy they were,” said Bernadette Belej, volunteer secretary for the HOPAK Ukrainian Dance School. “People just love the costumes. We were proud to showcase our Ukrainian culture and support the Salvos who have supported us at this difficult time, and provide fun to families.”
“We wanted to honour the different cultures, not just focus on diversity,” Meg said. “Dance and music are such a part of each of them. They were able to celebrate their culture, and they received a really positive reaction from everyone.”
Attendees received a QR code magnet that advertised programs run by local corps. Liv reported that 480 families indicated they wanted to know more about the programs and events that are run locally. About 84 per cent of attendees had no prior connection with The Salvation Army.
“It was really lovely seeing all these families so happy spending the evening with each other at the zoo. I'm very grateful to The Salvation Army for providing an opportunity like this for so many,” said another attendee, May.