WHITSUNDAY REEF FESTIVAL WRAP
Community bounces back from cyclone for bumper Whitsunday Reef Festival
PLANES, boats and even King Neptune himself took a ride down the Airlie Beach main street on Saturday.
They were all there for the Whitsunday Reef Festival’s main event – the Rotary Street Parade – lauded this year for being one of the best, as post-cyclone Debbie, local businesses and residents supported the theme, All Aboard for the Reef.
Parade organiser Merewyn Wright said the effort put into the float entries this year was “excellent”.
Whitsunday Christian College decorated its school bus so it would look like a boat, with resplendent cardboard sails.
Skydive Airlie Beach decorated its van with a propeller on the front, and wings to the side, so it resembled a plane.
Staff adorned themselves with pretend parachutes and enjoyed “pretend” skydives.
Video media company Th3rd Dimension Media re-enacted the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Men Tell No Tales, which took place around the Whitsundays, with the film released in May this year.
Plants Whitsunday manager Matt Stokes said it was “great fun” being in the street parade with about 12 of his colleagues and seeing all the smiling spectators.
Mr Stokes, who organised his float for the past month, said the goal was to make the crowds laugh.
“And I think we did that,” he said.
The Plants Whitsunday float ensemble included a mascot of a marlin, which “some people thought was a woodpecker” and “three guys in grass skirts and coconut bikinis”, Mr Stokes said.
He said the marlin mascot, flown in from America, had a person inside the fish outfit who ran around cuddling spectators.
The winners of this year’s street parade categories were: Best Business, Just Tuk’n’Around; Best Not-For-Profit, Sailability; Best ‘All Aboard for the Reef’ theme, Plants Whitsunday; Most unusual and wacky, JMae Costume
❝was Our goal to make the crowds laugh, and I think we did that. — Matt Stokes Plants Whitsunday
and Vintage for Hire or Sale.
The festival entertained more than 10,000 people over the entire weekend.
About 5000 people were wowed by the fireworks and festival events on Friday, and popular three-piece electro-house and dance music group, The Potbelleez, drew a crowd of more than 2000 on Saturday night.
Festival committee chairwoman Margie Murphy, said this year’s festival was “amazing”, despite rain on Sunday and the circus being in town at the same time.
Ms Murphy said she was proud of all the committee members and volunteers who had worked tirelessly to stage such a “good-quality” event, especially after the cyclone which had come close to derailing it.
She said work was not over for the festival administrators, who were finishing the clean-up and already beginning to think about next year’s event.
With a committee of 12 and volunteer network of 30 — including a total of two men — Ms Murphy said next year, the committee would be seeking to encourage more men to be involved.
BEATS ON THE BEACH: The Potbelleez were a hit with the crowds at the Reef Festival's Beats on the Beach.