Stable sets new record

Townsville Bulletin - - Holiday Fun - with Ian Frazer

A RECORD 26,450 peo­ple at­tended the fifth an­nual Stable on The Strand last week.

‘‘I be­lieve the mes­sage of Christ­mas got across, they heard the gospel story,’’ co-or­di­na­tor Rev­erend Anne Har­ley said.

RevHar­ley es­ti­mated num­bers were up by about 2000 at the five­day long Christ­mas fes­ti­val held by the Com­bined Churches and Townsville City Coun­cil.

Vis­i­tors gave $7800, which the or­gan­is­ers will share be­tween the Men­tal Ill­ness Fel­low­ship, Sal­va­tion Army drug and al­co­hol re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices and Food­bank Townsville.

An­other 1900 peo­ple took part in carol singing in Strand Park on Christ­mas eve, the night af­ter the stable ended.

The or­gan­is­ers gave away 20,000 pieces of Christ­mas cake, 12,000 ‘hope is born’ pla­sic ban­gles, 1000 ‘glow sticks’ and hun­dreds of Bibles.

While 550 vol­un­teers had of­fi­cially reg­is­tered, RevHar­ley es­ti­mated that 1000 peo­ple had helped in some way. Fifty churches were rep­re­sented.

A new ‘Kids­fest’ sec­tion had been at­tended by a to­tal of 2366 chil­dren.

R e v H a r l e y To wns v i l l e ’ s

r a n f i r s t ‘ S t a b l e ’ at Mount Louisa Unit­ing Church in 1999, bor­row­ing the idea from Toowoomba’s an­nual Christ­mas fes­ti­val.

She said then, ‘‘Santa has hi­jacked Christ­mas. It’s now all about kids want­ing presents but we want to re­mind peo­ple that Christ­mas is re­ally about Je­sus.’’

Two-thou­sand peo­ple at­tended the first week of what was then called a ‘ n a t i v i t y w a l k - through’.

The first Stable on the Strand, in 2002, drew 23,000 peo­ple, who gave $6000 for wel­fare work in Townsville.

RevHar­ley said the latest stable had been the cul­mi­na­tion of six months’ plan­ning.

‘‘I think it was one of t h e b e s t - d e s i g n e d sta­bles,’’ she said.

‘‘The an­i­mals were fan­tas­tic this year — we even had lla­mas and mini-horses.’’

A new Hall­way of Hope, high­light­ing the w a y T o w n s v i l l e churches help peo­ple in n e e d , h a d ‘ d r a w n to­gether’ the hope of C h r i s t m a s w i t h present-day is­sues.


CROWDS UP . . . Bess Thomas as Mary and Lolo­vai Towler as Joseph ar­rive at the Stable on the Strand

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