This morning, we drove around to the local park after hearing that it was the venue for a “Community Fun Day”. Whatever that means.

I had no idea what to expect. So I simply told the girls that I thought there would be people there handing out balloons.

Calista, 2yo, May 2010
We arrived early — before the crowds — and the girls enjoyed taking turns playing on the different playgrounds.

Brioni, 2yo, Aisha, 5yo, + Calista, 2yo, May 2010
The park is locally known as "Duck Park" because of its many waterways that are home to ducks, geese and at least one swan. The girls tried getting close to a black swan, but it took to the water before they were close enough to touch it.

When I saw the stallholders setting up, my heart sank. The girls also saw the brightly-coloured jumping castle and the petting zoo and started asking if they could participate. I returned to the car to raid the ash-tray for spare coins so the girls could go on some rides.

Delaney, 4 months old, May 2010
Delaney loves a good day out, and she wanted to test me on my emergency car stash too.

However, back in the park, after staking out the jumping castle, I couldn’t see a price anywhere. The petting zoo didn’t have a price sign either. Furthermore, it looked like kids were going in without money changing hands.

Yes, it was free — all free. Everything. The rides, the activities, the food, the drink. People were barbecuing sausages, others were serving drinks. Popcorn was handed out, shaved ice decorated into snow-cones.

We started the rounds of all the activities, stopping to indulge in the free food along the way.

Brioni, 3yo, May 2010
The girls especially liked munching on some free potato crisps. (The packets were past their use-by dates.)

Beenleigh Community Fun Day, May 2010
Aisha and Brioni tried out the jumping castle.

Aisha, 5yo, Brioni, 3yo, May 2010
Volunteers decorated the girls' faces. Brioni asked for a ballerina, and Aisha wanted a horse.

Calista, 2yo, May 2010
Cali scored an apple slinky.

Calista, 2yo, Brioni, 3yo, + Aisha, 5yo, May 2010
Two ladies had a card-making set-up. The girls glued little shapes onto paper until the volunteers' patience ran out.

Aisha, 5yo, Brioni, 3yo + Calista, 2yo, May 2010
Another first: snow-cones.

Brioni, 3yo, + Aisha, 5yo, May 2010
The girls made macaroni necklaces.

Calista, 2yo, May 2010
At two years old, Calista's fine motor skills are very good. She could thread the macaroni easily but lost interest in the activity before her necklace was complete.

Aisha, 5yo, Brioni, 3yo, May 2010
Aisha and B moved to a colouring table when their necklaces were complete.

Brioni, 3yo, Calista, 2yo + Aisha, 5yo, May 2010
Patiently waiting in line for their turn.

Aisha, 5yo, May 2010
I'm so proud of Aisha for being brave enough to ride this little horse!

Brioni, 3yo, May 2010
Brioni was blasé about the ride and more concerned with getting to ride the white horse (which she did).

Calista, 2yo, May 2010
Even Cali had a turn on a horse! (They were *very* little horses.)

Beenleigh Community Fun Day, May 2010
The girls were delighted to find an "angel" willing to read stories to them. (My girls were the only audience for the two books we sat through.)

Beenleigh Community Fun Day, May 2010
A police patrol car was on display. Everyone was invited to sit in the car and have a look around. Some brave individuals even turned on the lights and siren when they were pretending to drive!

Before we left the park, I stopped to talk to the organisers and thank them for the event. The day was funded by government grants and staffed by volunteers. Some private companies also donated their equipment/staff/time to provide extra activities for the kids. The organisers’ line was that they wanted to provide a fun day out for the family with no cost to the public.

That’s why it was free — all free. I’m so glad we went!