Covid: The Grinch that Stole Christmas in the Park

Many in the Gympie community are looking forward to Christmas as a time of hope in a difficult year and an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends.

Sadly, 2020 is the year that just keeps on giving and Christmas in the Park is yet another casualty, with organisers saying it is unfeasible to run the event this year.

Chairman Dean Comerford said Christmas in the Park was a large community event with over 5000 people usually attending and the Covid requirements for managing a gathering like this are extremely difficult to navigate.

“As organisers, we have spent months looking at a variety of options for the event, however, it is with incredible sadness that I inform the Gympie community that this year’s Christmas in the Park event at Nelson Reserve has been cancelled,“ Mr Comerford said.

Christmas in the Park has to operate under the state approved CovidSafe plan for large events.

That plan would have allowed for an event with approximately 3000 people attending in the space we use at Nelson Reserve. However, the various rules and restrictions would have made rides and a visit from Santa very difficult to manage, due to social distancing and extra cleaning requirements.

“The plan required us to do a number of extra CovidSafe things to manage crowd size, including creating a register of every person attending.

“We also had to provide hand sanitisation stations and regular cleaning by professionals, and several strategies to ensure social distancing for those there. We estimate the cost of staging this event is almost double what it would normally be and that’s simply not possible in this economic environment.

“We’d get half the crowd at half an event at twice the cost.”

“Ultimately, for us as a team, the sheer cost of putting on Christmas in the Park this year was beyond the pale. We could not ask our sponsors or Council to provide double what they normally do, and we felt that finding extra funding at this late stage would be next to

impossible.

“The ever-changing nature of the restrictions meant that by the time we knew we could run the event; we had run out of time to find the extra funding needed.

“Accordingly, our team, and the Gympie Minister’s Network, who ultimately run Christmas in the Park, felt the best thing to do was cancel this year’s event,“ Mr Comerford said.

All is not lost though. The Christmas in the Park team are working with major sponsor, 91.5fm, to bring another exciting Christmas event to Gympie.

The Twelve Days of Christmas will be a mix of on air and around town content, involving prizes and giveaways, angels and shepherds, Christmas music and the Star of Christmas.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is still in the planning stages and when we know more, we’ll be sharing it with Gympie and inviting everyone to join in.

“The Gympie Minister’s Network is grateful to the sponsors who make Christmas in the Park happen each year and to the partnership we have with the Gympie Regional Council, who have helped us navigate the rules in place for this year.

“We may not be hosting an event this Christmas, but we’ll be back in 2021 with a fantastic night for our community.“