The YouTube clip of a drunk 9-year-old boy at Fairfield has sparked a community to life with a home-grown plan to bring fun, games and positive vibes back to the park.
Fairfield pastor Dennis McCaskill enlisted the help of Hamilton's DJ Stretchmark to play a concert at the Free Tent Party planned for three afternoons next week.
McCaskill runs a church out of the community hall next to the skatepark on Clarkin Rd and said underage drinkers were a common occurrence.
"We started a church down at that area and every time we go there, there is always an abundance of kids with nothing to do really . . . and access to certain things and they are either stoned or drunk."
The event was already in draft form but the footage of the stumbling boy that went viral this week prompted an immediate reaction.
"It was a catalyst I guess, it's given it more drive and impetus," he said. "It was always going to happen but that 9-year-old kid who was drunk is nothing new down there and that's one of the reasons why we are doing it."
He said the reaction to the clip, where people voiced their opinions and laid blame would come to an end and when the dust cleared the hard work would begin.
"Everyone gets a little bit upset, has their piece to say and then forgets about it and moves on until the next one happens," he said.
A plea went out on McCaskill's Facebook page after his sound system was damaged and he said he would have to rely on donations to pay for the event.
McCaskill is a youth worker who helps people released from custodial sentences. He said change took time and effort.
"If you develop a relationship with children and teenagers and they can trust you, and they've got someone to go to, they are less likely to end up in that system."
The Free Tent Party will run at the Fairfield Park on January 16 to 18 from 2pm to 4pm.
PEOPLE JUDGING DON'T KNOW MY FAMILY - MUM
The mother of a 9-year-old boy who got drunk at a Hamilton skate park wants the adults who gave him alcohol to be charged.
She has spoken out about the ordeal of having her son's drunken experience broadcast online and in the media, describing it as "horrible" and "ugly".
A video was posted online that shows her son with a can of bourbon and cola struggling to stand, being abusive and slurring his words at Fairfield Skate Park in Hamilton on Tuesday.
It has been viewed more than 700,000 times and published on dozens of websites around the world.
The original version was online again yesterday after being removed on Thursday at the request of police.
It has provoked public outrage, with many comments posted online directed at the boy's parents.
His mother, whom the Times has chosen not to name, said comments from "people thinking they know the situation when they don't" have been hurtful.
"People act like it happens all the time in my family. This is like a situation that was a random thing," she said.
"People are just going to judge anyway. Why do I have to justify myself? And the people who are judging are the people who don't know me, or think they know me."
The mother of five boys, aged 7-12, said she had no idea her son was being given alcohol and wanted people to hear her side of the story before jumping to conclusions.
She also wanted those responsible to be charged.
"I think they're horrible. They're adults. Do they have kids? Who knows? Would they do that to their own?"
The woman said she had been at a close friend's tangi out of town with her son on Tuesday - his ninth birthday.
They returned home in the afternoon and he went to play with friends across the road while she prepared dinner.
She said she had no idea that he had taken off to the skate park, about a kilometre away.
She understood a woman, aged in her mid-20s, gave her son the alcohol at the park.
"I don't know her. I know of her," she said. "I think they thought it would be funny."
Police said he consumed eight pre-mixed bourbon and cola cans and two liqueur shots.
He came home about 6pm stinking of Lynx deodorant and behaving strangely.
"We were like, ‘Oh my god, he's drunk'. Then we sorted him out and put him to lie down and that's when the police turned up."
She co-operated with police and has ongoing support from Child Youth and Family.
She said the young man who claimed to be the boy's "big brother" in the video, and said it was "all good" that he was drunk, had since apologised to her.
She said she rarely drank alcohol and had never given it to her son, but would educate him about its dangers.
"Our kids should be able to be safe to go and play in a park and not have people putting that stuff onto them."
Police have not charged anyone for giving the boy alcohol, but Hamilton Police Acting Inspector Kent Holdsworth said the investigation was continuing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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