Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WITH the of­fi­cial Schoolies Week cel­e­bra­tions wrap­ping up to­day, many young school leavers will be look­ing back on a won­der­ful week in the Whit­sun­days.

There have been plenty of thrills and a few spills, but most will agree the 2015 event went off with­out a hitch.

For­mer Proser­pine State High School stu­dent Kel­lie Van Ber­gen said on Satur­day she had been really look­ing for­ward to “the at­mos­phere at night”.

And with the Red Frogs Dance Party, the Mag­nums Ho­tel Beach Party and many more, the nights sure were alive.

Hav­ing made the de­ci­sion to party lo­cally, PSHS graduate Kyra Hadley said her par­ents felt a lot bet­ter know­ing she and her friends were close by.

“And if any­thing does go wrong, they can come help us,” Ms Van Ber­gen added.

Speak­ing on Satur­day morn­ing, Ms Van Ber­gen had a short but re­as­sur­ing mes­sage for her par­ents.

“I am re­spon­si­ble,” she said.

One of the groups en­sur­ing the kids’ safety, Red Frogs, passed a lo­cal mile­stone this year, cel­e­brat­ing a decade of sup­port from a num­ber of lo­cal busi­nesses.

Red Frogs founder Andy Gour­ley vis­ited Air­lie Beach on Tues­day, recog­nis­ing the com­mu­nity’s ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing the schoolies.

“Be­cause for us, we walk peo­ple home, fill up vomit bags, clean up rooms and make pan­cakes really well, but we know we can’t do it by our­selves,” Mr Gour­ley said.

“It needs to be a whole com­mu­nity re­sponse, so we just really wanted to hon­our th­ese com­mu­nity busi­nesses and lead­ers.”

Mr Gour­ley made spe­cial men­tion of the Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club, say­ing it was “ba­si­cally Red Frogs HQ” for the re­gion.

“It’s the cen­tre­point for the frog­gies in ac­tion,” he said.

“So in­stead of launch­ing them out to sea, they’re launch­ing them into the ho­tels.”

With about 130 lo­cal vol­un­teers, Mr Gour­ley said the lo- cal to­pog­ra­phy had earned the Whit­sun­day Red Frogs the ti­tle of “cham­pi­ons of walk homes”.

“The walk homes they do are like sum­mits, and we call it the Red Frogs Big­gest Loser be­cause they get huge calves,” Mr Gour­ley laughed.

LET LOOSE: Lo­cal schoolies Jesse Gun­ders, Rhylee Good­win, Kel­lie Van Ber­gen and Kyra Hadley out­side Schoolies Cen­tral ready for the fun to be­gin on Satur­day af­ter­noon. INSET: Andy Gour­ley thanks Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club’s Troy Jones (left) and Air­lie Beach Ho­tel’s Pas­cal Schaf­fer for the busi­nesses’ 10-year sup­port of Red Frogs.

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