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“I have never seen anything like this!”

Taras Galas, the leader of the Cossack Brothers, felt compelled to take the microphone from the M.C. Father Tony Warwarek to tell the 160 people gathered at the Hobart Ukrainian Hall that he had “performed all over Australia and had never seen anything like this before!” Taras has been around at weddings, Malankas, parties and all sorts of social gatherings but what he and others witnessed on Saturday, 17th March 2012, at the hall really impressed him. He and many others were at a loss for words to explain just what they had just witnessed.

 Part of this magic became evident weeks ago when the organizers tried to keep the attendance at 75. But soon 75 more people wanted tickets, and then on the night another 10 people rolled up and asked to be admitted.

 What the Ukrainian community was celebrating was the 5th anniversary of the opening of the new Ukrainian Hall and chapel. Many from the mainland remember that day in 2007 because they were there. Questions were asked: Are there enough Ukrainians in Hobart to have a future in this new hall. Five years on, the children and grandchildren of the original pioneers came out in force. This time the only outsiders present were the 3 Cossack Brothers and Bishop Peter who lead Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

In five years the community is alive and well. The chapel has an altar, beautiful icons, and an iconostas. There are about 12 small children in a dancing group which was formed and is now lead by Mariana Ladaniwskyj. They have had a choir. The evening entertainment included the resident dance school, a bandurist, a duet, and the Cossack Brothers. The highlight of the evening was the local Ukrainian band which really brought those present to their feet and onto the floor. The orchestra was very, very good. They have talent and they no doubt would attract another crowd on a similar evening. People spontaneously sang and danced. But what probably got Taras going was the unrehearsed participation of the 15 or so young people present. They got up onto the floor and started to have a good time. They dragged the Cossack Brothers onto the floor again to join them. It was really amusing to see the pied piper effect the Cossack Brothers had on the young children. The children mobbed them and were talking to them all evening. Even the 10 or so children on Sunday after the Church service dance in the hall without music.

The fellowship and food was excellent.  The local politician, Senator Katherine Bilyk, made her feelings known. She was very impressed. The Ukrainian community in Hobart is big and its potential is coming to the fore.

The local organizing committee was to be congratulated and encouraged. A job well done!