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Dad Defends $39K Birthday Party for 3-Year-Old Daughter

This article originally appeared on Yahoo Parenting and was reprinted with permission

A father is defending his decision to throw his daughter a nearly $39,000 third birthday party after critics said the affair was unnecessarily extravagant.

Eric Lembo and Trang Nguyen, parents in Perth, Australia, threw their daughter, Lauren, a 220-person birthday party last week, according to the Perth Now Sunday Times. “The day wasn’t all about the money,” Lembo said Tuesday, answering those who called the fete “wasteful” and “vulgar.”

The Disney-themed soiree included entertainment from a former Australian Idol contestant, a balloon artist, photo booth, children’s high tea, and a menu that included tempura scallops, truffle arancini, pork belly, cognac and a Disney cake. Minnie and Mickey Mouse walked around greeting guests. The lavish event, which was held at the reception venue owned by Lembo, had a price tag of $48,195 Australian dollars, according to the paper, which is just about $39,000 USD.

“The Italian and the Vietnamese cultures have a large first birthday so we decided to do it for her second and third birthday as well,” Lembo told Perth Now. “It has really become a party not just for Lauren but for all of my family and friends to get together. That’s very important to me.”

Not surprisingly, little Lauren loved her party. “She thought it was amazing,” Lembo said. “Her face lit up. ”

But comments on the article and on Perth Now’s Facebook page, where the article was shared 324 times and got nearly 2,500 comments, were less impressed.

“Even if it cost him a fifth of that it is still obscene for a three year old. Or a ten year old. Or a 16 year old,” wrote a commenter named Eric. “They are setting this child up to be a spoiled brat.”

Another commenter, Val, wrote: “Imagine how many blankets and meals this would have brought for families in need and the homeless.”

And from Vicki: “What a waste of money! Imagine how much food that could buy for people who are starving hungry and have no roof over their heads. That party was not about their child so much as it was about the parents grandstanding. Shameful display of materialism.”

Lembo shot back at his critics on Tuesday, defending his decision and saying that he plans to throw another lavish party for Lauren’s fourth birthday. He told Perth Now that the event was about friends, family, and marketing his event space, not just the price tag. He also said he regularly donates to charity – including footing the bill for a terminally ill cancer patient’s wedding and donating $1,000 lunch vouchers to charity auctions – and that he was proud to be helping the local economy with his pricey party.

“One of the comments was that we should send our daughter to a refugee camp so that she can learn the value of money,” Lembo told Perth Now. “That’s very funny because Trang and her whole family came to Australia from a refugee camp.”

Lembo has plenty of supporters on Facebook as well.

“Still a ridiculous amount of money for a child’s birthday party. But, perhaps if we all had money to burn, we’d do the same thing, who knows? Least he is a present father, that clearly loves his child,” wrote one named Cara.

Added Ngaroma, “Stop being judgmental… Their child, their money however they want to spend it.. Good on them.”

As for next year, Lembo says he can’t wait for Lauren’s big day. “I am going to inject more money back into the community next year, for Lauren’s fourth birthday.”

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