More than just a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Durban North, the Christmas Fantasy held at Virginia Circle Model Railway every December, has become one of the highlights on the events calendar in Durban North, not just for the children, but for the many volunteers involved in the event. From its beginnings in December 2006 when the late Dave Flitton, a long standing member of Rotary, suggested that the club put on an event to bring some old-fashioned Christmas cheer to the community, the Christmas Fantasy has brought together Rotarians, Anns, family of Rotary and volunteers from local schools and the community as they give generously of their time to make this 6 day event a success.
The hard work and dedication put in by club members, Anns and volunteers each year is remarkable. This event takes months of preparation and planning but the joy on the children’s faces makes it all worthwhile. The Fantasy would not be possible without the members of the Durban Society of Model Engineers who have always willingly supported such a worthy project by providing their venue and the volunteers who drive the model trains that are a delight for the children. The Christmas Fantasy is also an opportunity for us to spend time amongst our community and create awareness of the Service above Self message of Rotary International.
Initially the show was run very much on a break-even basis as the set-up and infrastructure costs for such an event are very high, but it became apparent that the club needed to get meaningful corporate sponsorship to ensure that the Fantasy could continue. The significant sponsorship received from Mr Price in 2012 and 2013 assisted to a very large extent in covering these costs and the club has been able to achieve a small profit which is used for their numerous community-based projects.
Every year the club invites disadvantaged children to attend an evening dedicated to them. In 2013 over 800 children attended the Fantasy and of those children approximately 200 were from the disadvantaged community and local Children’s Homes. They enjoy the same entertainment as the paying public which includes: train rides, jumping castles, a magic show, face-painting, a gift from Father Christmas and off course hotdogs, chips and cool drinks to keep their energy up during all the fun activities. Although the evening has enjoyed contributions from Checkers and Jockey SA in the past, the club is seeking corporate sponsors for the charity evening so that more disadvantaged children can enjoy this once in a lifetime experience in 2016 as the 2014 & 2015 Fantasy could not take place due to lack of corporate funding.
The Christmas Fantasy is a real labour of love for the Rotary Club of Durban North. It is thanks to the support we receive from the Durban North community that we hope to once again bring cheer to children, both advantaged and disadvantaged, in 2016.