A decision to ban alcohol from this year's Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park has been applauded by alcohol watchdogs and received strong public support.
Police said they, the Auckland Council and the soft-drinks giant had agreed to a complete alcohol ban for tonight's concert "in an effort to improve levels of safety in and around the event and neighbouring suburbs before, during and after its conclusion".
Some concert-goers took to the internet to complain about the decision, with one describing the new-look event as "nana Christmas in the park" and another branding it dull. But hundreds voiced their support and many felt it was long overdue.
The New Zealand Drug and Alcohol Foundation also backed the decision and said it mirrored a shift in attitudes about drinking.
"This is a good decision and it's consistent with a growing community mood of rethinking the role of alcohol in social and cultural events," said executive director Ross Bell.
"It should also be welcomed by those families who want to simply enjoy a community celebration without fear of the evening being spoilt by intoxicated people.
"This is not a wowser decision. It simply acknowledges that New Zealanders don't need to have alcohol at every social event, especially one targeted at children."
Rhoanne Afamasaga-Te Tai said the event was not a party, nor was it about alcohol.
"It's a family event and, with the number of children attending, there should be no alcohol to even start with. It's the best move to have been made," she said.
Bria McKay said she would attend the event for the first time in 15 years because of the decision.
"I stopped (going) because one of my mates was hospitalised by a group of out-of-control, completely drunk teenagers. I now have a 4-year-old child who has only ever been allowed to watch it on telly because it's just too unpredictable," she said.
"I am looking happily forward to telling her where we are going on Saturday night."
Beth Roper said it was a great idea.
"The last time I went, it was full of underage drinkers being fools, and I haven't been since, kids don't need to see it."
However, others thought alcohol should be permitted.
"Christmas in the Park has never been a drunken event with any issues," said Juliette Banks. "I loved the fact it was a place you could take a picnic and a bottle of wine and just have some Christmas fun. Stupid decision.
Sonny Gough said: "I won't be going again in that case. We are forever being penalised because of someone else being an irresponsible drinker."