‘Back to normal’: Crowds are ‘joyful’ to celebrate Canberra Day 2022 | Canberra time


Commonwealth Park was even happier than usual on Monday. There was curry, ramen and pancakes – aided by beer, coffee and spirits. On elevated stages, singers sang, actors performed, dancers danced, drummers drummed and poets spoke under sunny skies. The stalls offered more than food – with painting and calligraphy lessons among the workshops on offer. But the most shocking part of the whole event was the people. MORE READING OF THE DAY FROM CANBERRA: Unmasked strangers eating around each other; laugh and talk. Sing, dance and party. Canberra is rapidly seeing the return of major events following relaxed restrictions, with some families – like the Cowies – braving crowds for the first time since lockdown. Melissa Cowie said she felt Canberra was “finally getting a bit back to normal”, while eight-year-old Chelsea was just happy to have some ice cream. Naomi Fallon, a mother-of-two, said it was “amazing” to finally take her little ones outside. “It’s nice to be around other people again,” she said. “Just being able to show our kids things like this, after such a long time in lockdown, is nice.” Parents Sarah and Gellert Szabo also said that with the sun and the people, it felt like life was getting back to normal. “It feels really normal again, to be 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 keeping her distance. “It’s nice to be able to walk into a place and have a lot of people around without having to wear a face mask or 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 “joyful” to be among the celebrations. “It’s wonderful. It’s so happy and sunny today, so we’re very lucky,” she said. “It’s so relaxing, because there are dances from different countries and you can enjoy [them]. “Then we’ll walk around and enjoy this beautiful day today as much as possible and have fun.” Ms Chu said the day had been “magnificent”. “It’s so beautiful. We’re in a great place, with the fountain in the background. We’re having a great time,” she said. This year’s event had a multicultural theme. Celtic dancers played bagpipes in kilts; amateur poets recited works created at an earlier workshop on stage; young Palestinian-Australian children staged 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 shut down by the shutdowns. Catherine Chen said she could feel the energy of the crowd. “It’s so great to see a lot of people coming together again, so we’re really excited for that,” she said. IN OTHER NEWS: Mohammed Shtaiwi said that although the National Multicultural Festival was canceled last year, it was an opportunity to celebrate Canberra’s diversity. Mr. Shtaiwi’s daughter was one of the entertainers, celebrating a traditional Palestinian wedding by playing and dancing. “I think it’s good for kids – and everyone – to know what the Palestinian tradition is in weddings,” he said. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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