You have spoken - Bendigo Christmas tree light up to go ahead

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Editorial: Community must step up and save the event

UPDATE 2.30pm: 

IT’S beginning to look a lot like Christmas with a council spokesperson confirming the Christmas tree light up event will go ahead on Friday.              

Bendigo threw its support behind the Christmas tree light up event with offers pouring in from locals throughout the day.

“The people of Greater Bendigo want this event and we will make it happen with their support,” City of Greater Bendigo Director of Community Wellbeing Pauline Gordon said.

“The business community and the local media have got right behind this and their support has been fantastic."

Details are still being finalised but Ms Gordon said entertainment was likely to start about 7.30pm with the lighting ceremony at dusk.

3BO radio personalities Beck and Cogho have offered to MC the event, and Mark Coffey from Wine Bank will supply the PA system.

Bendigo Party Hire will donate a stage, Dewar’s Audio Systems will also help while Apex Imagery has offered to video the lighting of the tree.

The Bendigo Youth Choir, Hey Dee Ho Music, Anne Conway and the Marist Brothers Brass band has offered to provide some of the entertainment.

Ms Gordon said given the overwhelming response for keeping the event going a festive season strategy would be developed for next year.

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The City of Greater Bendigo announced on Friday that a lack of sponsorship and funding would see the event cancelled this year. 

The council had planned to turn the tree lights on tomorrow night without fanfare.

But late yesterday the council agreed to postpone flicking the switch to see if there was enough community demand and people willing to donate their time and expertise for the festive celebration to proceed on Friday. 

The Bendigo Advertiser has launched a poll for people to vote to save the event via an SMS text message to 0428 302 646 or through our online poll.

City of Greater Bendigo director community well-being Pauline Gordon said people would need to show interest in the next 24 hours.

“We don’t have any budget for it but if there are professionals out there willing to volunteer their time, the council is willing to support it,” she said. 

“We would need assistance with audio, staging, professional musicians and some children’s entertainment to make this happen.  If there’s sufficient support, we’ll try to get it up and running.” 

Bendigo mayor Lisa Ruffell said she supported the push. 

“The Christmas spirit is still alive in Bendigo,” she said. 

“But if the community and sponsors can rally around it, we’d be all for it.”

The Bendigo Advertiser’s website received more than a dozen comments from people calling for the event to be brought back after the cancellation was announced. 

Councillors Rod Fyffe, Peter Cox, James Williams, Mark Weragoda and Elise Chapman told the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday they would like to see the event go ahead. 

“The smiles on the kids’ faces whenever I’ve been down there has been sensational,” Cr Fyffe said. 

“It just gets people in the spirit of Christmas, we want to see people enjoy each other’s company.”

The council had planned to turn the tree lights on tomorrow night without an event, but late yesterday agreed to delay that until Friday to give a community event a chance. 

Cr Cox said local businesses could help fund the event, and Cr Chapman said she had already spoken to one person keen to donate. “If they want to see something back, why don’t they put their hand in their pocket?” she said. 

Cr Barry Lyons and Cr Helen Leach said they didn’t know enough about the event so they couldn’t comment and Cr Rod Campbell could not be contacted. 

People wishing to give the light-up event a last-minute reprieve should call the City of Greater Bendigo on 5434 6000 today.

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