Walking in a Winterfest Wonderland

12 taiko drummers, 11 bake sale cookies, 10 lost children, 9 live bands playing, 8 tasty treats, 7 seasonal stage shows, 6 shopping areas, 5 event co-chairs, 4 Santa photos, 3 platinum sponsors, 2 bouncy houses and 1 steam train!

There wasn’t a Grinch to be seen this December 2 as Winterfest took over the Chofu campus. The halls were decked with blue and silver and packed with visitors as the local community and alumni joined current students and parents in a fun-filled day.

Shoppers were spoilt for choice with 61 booths in the International bazaar selling everything from antiques to caviar. In the middle school gym, the oriental furniture sale offered further chances to shop and the Holiday Boutique showcased hand-crafted seasonal ornaments. Over in the theater, savvy shoppers reaped the benefits of cleared closets at Vintage Vogue where they snapped up bargains galore.

Outdoors the fun really happened. Bouncy houses and games drew crowds and a record number of over 500 passengers boarded the Winterfest Express for a steam driven ride around the field. Student and faculty bands played under cover in the new courtyard, while the theater played host to taiko drumming, the elementary choir, elementary and middle school strings, high school jazz band and ASIJ dance crew. In the MPR, third-grade singers serenaded visitors and the Hulabootie group danced. New this year, magician Fraser Gould entertained little ones with some amazing tricks. The Japan Center also added their own spin on the holiday festivities, with several tea ceremonies throughout the day.

The ever-popular food booth served up everything from the perennially popular falafel to Thai curry. The Brits were back after a few years away serving up mince pies and a new addition to the offering came from the Polish booth where they dished up hunter’s stew and potato pancakes. Outside the Kiwis grilled lamb and piping hot pies next to American BBQ favorites. With a total of 17 booths, visitors had a tough time choosing what to eat.

Our fabulous Winterfest Chofu Co-Chairs Yasuko Kent and Sora Kwan and the ELC PTA Winterfest team, which included Hisae Hashimoto, Mary Koukoumelidis and Chika Suzuki, did a great job coordinating this complex event. Their team of dedicated chairs spent countless hours meeting, organizing, preparing and ensuring that everyone had a good time. This event would not have been possible without the student and parent volunteers who baked, cooked, sorted, sewed, counted and worked shifts at booths.

The main fundraising component of Wintefest is the raffle, which this year made ¥5.7 million. Our Grand Raffle Chairs Yuriko Lo and Emi Mohamed from Chofu and the ELC Winterfest team worked diligently to distribute and collect all the tickets. Our fundraisers Mariko Nakamura from the Chofu PTA and Heidi Bloomer from the ELC PTA secured some great prizes and corporate sponsorships. The money raised from the Grand Raffle, and Winterfest as a whole, enables the PTAs to fund a wide variety of enhancements each year and provide grants for visiting artists, authors and other speakers.

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