Santa officially launched Christmas at the new Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) this morning by turning on the lights of the huge Christmas tree in the hospital’s atrium, Main Street.
This impressive nine-metre tree was lovingly created, designed and donated by the team at Kmart – an official Christmas partner of the RCH – and features life-sized animal decorations to complement the hospital’s interior design, which draws upon Australian flora and fauna.
Patients and visitors enjoyed sitting with Santa in his oversized Christmas chair posing for photos and taking the opportunity to share their Christmas lists with him.
Managing Director of Kmart, Guy Russo, said he was proud of Kmart’s association with the hospital through fundraising arm, the RCH Foundation, at Christmas.
“Almost four years ago Kmart began donating toys to help the children at the world famous Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne in the hope that we would encourage some wonderful smiles on the children’s faces when they woke up Christmas morning,” Mr Russo said.
“This year we have been able to go that one step further, building a beautiful festive tree for the hospital’s Main Street. We truly hope it warms people’s hearts and takes the children’s and visitors’ minds off the challenges they face during the festive season,” he said.
The tree was 12 months in the making and involved briefings with architects and interior designers of the new RCH. Christmas tree designers Dovecote worked with Kmart to develop the beautiful tree and submitted a number of design options before the final magnificent signature tree was selected.
The tree took a mammoth 10 hours to set up. It comes to life every hour when the animals surrounding the tree move to music.
Kmart also donated 60 Christmas trees to decorate the wards and family areas of the hospital. A bevy of around 40 Kmart team members and 30 Pied Pipers members volunteered many hours last weekend to set up the trees, decorating them according to the design theme of each hospital floor. The Pied Pipers have been a longstanding Christmas supporter of the hospital, putting up decorations for more than 40 years.
RCH CEO Professor Christine Kilpatrick said Santa’s sneak peak at the new hospital today served a second purpose.
“Today’s visit doubled as an important scoping exercise for Santa, who wanted to familiarise himself with our new hospital before his visit to patients on Christmas Day,” she said.
“We certainly don’t want patients thinking Santa will lose his way trying to navigate the new hospital. I’m pleased to say Santa has marked his route and will be at the hospital Christmas morning with a special present for every patient.”
On Christmas Day, Santa will arrive at the RCH with members of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s (MFB) ‘Once A Year Club’ in new and antique fire trucks. Santa will visit every patient laden with presents donated by Kmart, while the MFB band will entertain the wards playing Christmas carols.
“Being in hospital at Christmas is never a parent’s wish for their child and so we go to great lengths to make Christmas as special as possible for patients and families, as well as staff,” Professor Kilpatrick said.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the support of generous companies and organisations such as Kmart, the MFB and the Pied Pipers at Christmas time. Thanks to them, our first Christmas in our new home will indeed be a special one,” she said.