With the lockdown and travel restrictions, the prospect of celebrating the Austrian National Day in Pattaya this year seemed dim. But with the determination of some Austrians and other nationalities in Pattaya, the festive event turned out to be a full-blown celebration at the Thai Garden Resort on October 26. This date marks the day the Austrian Parliament passed their constitutional law on permanent neutrality in 1965.
Owners Gerrit and Anselma Niehaus threw open the doors of their hotel for free, offering more than 150 Austrian and international guests a place to revel at no charge while offering food and beverages at reasonable prices.
The coronavirus pandemic’s travel restrictions blocked the Austrian musicians from Tirol, who traditionally play each year, from arriving so this year music was provided by the Trio Santos band. Radchada Chomjinda, director of the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand, added to the entertainment when she brought 16 children from their shelters for an Austrian music-and-dance show.
Anselma Niehaus and the head chief Kenneth Groessens spent weeks preparing an authentic Austrian menu which even Alpine natives swore was the best this side of the Danube.
Radchada also put up a booth in the lobby where hats, handbags and facemasks, all made by the children and their teachers, were sold to raise money for the charity. During the festivities, MC Peter Malhotra also walked around selling HHNTF facemasks to raise more funds for the children.
Austrian Ambassador H.E. Dr. Eva Hager came down from Bangkok to join special guests Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, former PM of Chonburi Chanyuth Hengtrakul, and Honorary Consul Rudolf Hofer.
Waving a huge Austrian flag, Elfi Seitz, Executive Editor of the Pattaya Blatt, a true blooded Austrian, together with the children paraded into the festive area to the exhilarating music of the Radetzky March. As chair of the organizing committee, Elfi made her brief remarks and welcomed guests to the festivities.
During her address, H.E. Dr. Hager spoke of the long relationship between Thailand and Austria. She invited guests to raise their glasses in a toast to HM the King of Thailand and to the President of the Federal Republic of Austria, followed respectively by the Thai and the Austrian national anthems.
Children in Austrian dresses danced a choreographed “Bandltanz,” receiving lots of applause. Reinhard Fendrich’s “I Am from Austria,” a song considered the country’s “second anthem” was played. The lights were dimmed and everyone waved their phone flashlights to create a memorable moment.
With that, the official part of the commemoration ended and guests enjoyed friendship, food, drink and dance.