With warm and breezy summer weather for most of the day, Sunday was the perfect day for VOC’s first ever Family Day, which drew thousands of people to Ratanga Junction for a day of fun and adventure. From as early as 8am, hundreds of families lined up outside the entrance of the massive theme park hoping to be first inside to avoid the long queues at the most popular rides. VOC surpassed its expectation by selling all 5000 tickets for its first Family Day, just an hour after opening the gates to the fun park.
VOC presenter Ayesha Laatoe welcomed early comers when gates opened at 9 and families streamed into the theme park. They were welcomed to the wares and culinary delights available all around in fair weather and the sound of stall keepers’ calls and colourful displays. Hundreds of children and teenagers flooded through the gates rushing to get their adrenalin fix, leaving their parents to relax at the main stage and tea garden.
After the official opening by VOC’s board of management and staff, the entertainment kicked off with VOC Cook Off competition. VOC’s own presenters and producers took each other on in a heated contest on stage, while only a few hundred metres away others stood eagerly in line to experience the awesome thrill of the Cobra, the Diamond Dust Devil and other massive rides.
Giggles, frantic laughter and genuine expressions of surprise filled the air later on as a magician entertained a crowd of children from Ratanga Junction’s main stage.
By mid-day the park’s auditorium was filled with families young and old, engaging with the station’s presenters and representatives, protected from the sun outside.
At the main stage, the older crowd were entertained by Golden Hour presenter Yusuf Fisher, followed by the smooth sounds of the best of local musicians.
At the same time, there was also a big audience at the VOC Nasheed Competition, which brought together the best of young up-and-coming nasheed talent. As the last four top groups brought the competition to a close, the crowd roared with applause as the top four was announced. They were: Ahlil Quran; Awaatul Arqam; Ahbaabul Al Mustapha and Awaatul Islam.
But the group to take the grand prize was Ahlil Quran, who wowed the crowd with their well chosen nasheed and quite obviously blew the judges away. Audience members left the auditorium in awe of the incredible voices that emerged on the day.
But although the day was billed as a day for the whole family, it was really one for the kids. From tea-cups to bumper cars and pedal boats on Ratanga’s lake, the day was the perfect outing for kids.
The sun was no barrier for the rush to the different rides and each attraction, where one needed to meet a certain height requirement, was filled to the brim with little people.
The three most popular rides were The Cobra, Congo Queen and The Stargaze. The Cobra, roller coaster ride standing at a height of 32 meters with speeds of close to 100 kilometers an hour, the Cobra is only for the ultimate adrenalin junkies. The screams heard from the riders when on it was haunting as much as it was exhilarating.
“My heart was beating so fast but I told myself I must get through this,” said first time rider Tarren Ables (13).
“It was insane and terrifying but nice. The best experience,” said Aniqah Barnes (14).
“I loved it but it is very fast and it felt like my lungs were going to jump out of my mouth,” added Laeeqah Jackson (12).
Meanwhile elsewhere, VOC’s kids’ party was in full swing, complete with the station’s own ladies dressed up in drag and other costumes to the delight of the kids.
For those not fazed by the thrills of the rides, there was plenty of shopping to do. Shoppers could browse an array of stalls offering Islamic couture, jewellery, accessories, Islamic art, toys, books, Malay and Indian cuisine and Islamic policies and funding. The Islamic clothing vendors seemed most busy, each offering their own version of abayas, scarves and salah tops.
“As far as business is concerned people should go local as it caters to our unique needs. It also assists in providing jobs for the unemployed,” says owner of Mystique Accessories, Faghmie Davids.
VOC’s family day went off without a hitch, and from the smiles and chatter heard throughout Ratanga Junction’s shaded lanes and shopping area, the day was the first of many successful Family Days to come. VOC