Fun and games - and time to be proud

PLEASANT weather gave thousands of Penrith residents another reason to enjoy Australia Day on Sunday.

Thousands, mainly families with children, crowded Panthers and the Regatta Centre for games, shows and entertainment.

Panthers attractions included an Australian wildlife exhibition where people could touch lizards, owls and snakes.

There were also horse rides and an enclosure with small farm animals, such as lambs, chickens, geese and piglets for the children.

"I liked the wildlife and reptile show the best; it's interesting and it's educational for the kids," Melissa Ward of St Clair said.

Her young son, Robson, agreed: "I got to handle a snake, it was great; I'd like to get one for my birthday".

Mrs Ward said the day was also a chance for Australians to feel grateful for living where they do.

"We should be celebrating."

Kevin Chung from Mount Druitt arrived from Malaysia three years ago.

He said it was the first Australia Day celebration he had attended.

"It's nice; I think the horse rides are the best thing here, they're certainly fun for the kids," Mr Chung said.

He said he and his family came to Australia largely for the lifestyle.

"It's nice and relaxing; there's a laid-back attitude to life," Mr Chung said. "Australia is a good environment for children."

Panthers touch footy players Dean McKechnie and Nathan Byrnes played social cricket with some of the children.

"It's been a great day; very enjoyable," McKechnie said.

Byrnes said it was also a good day to be an Australian.

"Australia Day is great because it makes us proud and brings all families and communities together," he said.

Australia Day celebrations continued at Penrith Lakes, with children's entertainment comprising a Despicable Me 2 stage show and Butterscotch's Playground.

Rock songs followed, performed by Mark Travers, Rose Carleo and Simon Meli.

Zoe Badwi and Havana Brown also performed.

Mayor Ross Fowler said the celebrations emphasised what a special day it was for all Australians, old and new.

"Today I had the pleasure to award citizenship to 70 people from many different lands," Cr Fowler said.

The evening's entertainment finished with a fireworks display.

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