Stable sets new record
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