(7.30pm, Saturday 23 February 2013, Centennial Hall)
Thank you Dan [MC Dan Barnett].
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.
I especially welcome tonight:
- Our Chinese New Year Festival Ambassadors
- City Councillors including
- Councillor Robert Kok, Chair of our Chinese New Year Festival Advisory Group
It's wonderful to see the tradition of the Dragon Ball return to Sydney.
As some of you may know, its origins date to the war between Japan and China which broke out in 1937. Sydney's Chinese community rallied in support of their homeland, and began raising funds to contribute to its war effort.
The first Dragon Ball was held at the Trocadero in 1938 and in subsequent years moved to The Chevron hotel in Kings Cross and then here to Town Hall until 1973, when the last ball was held - until now, that is!
In its heyday, with dozens of young girls introduced to society as debutantes, the Dragon Ball was the high point of the year in the Chinese community calendar.
Tonight we have revived some of the past glamour and infused it with a contemporary Sydney edge. We are particularly pleased to welcome Mr King Fong, Vice-President of the Chinese Australian Historical Society who has given us invaluable information on the history of this event. The social history of our Chinese community is very much part of Sydney's story.
This 17th Chinese New Year Festival has been a wonderful success, with over 80 events and a truly magnificent Twilight Parade last weekend.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its success, and for tonight, I thank in particular:
- The Dragon Ball director, Kris Stewart, and designers Alex Sommer and Brad Clarke and
- Bowie Wong, who has supplied our vocalists with the beautiful frocks they're wearing tonight
- Our Principal Sponsor, Medibank
- Our Major Sponsors, The Star and AYAM
- Festival Director Gill Minervini and our brilliant City of Sydney Events Team who do an outstanding job every year in staging this fantastic festival.
It's a gorgeous scene here, so let's all welcome the return of the Dragon Ball. Have a great night, everyone!