Com­mu­nity bounces back from cy­clone for bumper Whit­sun­day Reef Fes­ti­val

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Louise Shan­non

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.


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