In what can only be classed as a major triumph for the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce, Merimbula’s New Year’s Eve celebrations were a total success, bringing together families and friends for a night of picnics, entertainment and super fireworks at Ford Park, Merimbula.
The crowds started to build up early in the evening and by 7.30pm there were well over 2000 people in the park but numbers soon swelled; Merimbula Chamber of Commerce president, Natalie Godward, thought it was over 3000 but Sergeant Cliff Scarlett of Merimbula Police believed there could have been as many as 5000 or 6000.
Many groups contained children and adults enjoying the atmosphere together as they picnicked in perfect weather, listened to music and to “ohhs” and “ahhs”, watched the family fireworks at 9.30pm.
After the family fireworks finished many families made for home but adults and teenagers soon filled the void, dancing and singing to a series of bands.
As midnight approached, visitors in nearby apartments crowded onto the streets around Ford Park to join in the celebrations as Merimbula saw in 2013 in considerable style with another great fireworks display.
Mrs Godward called the evening “a phenomenal success” and commented on how well-behaved the crowd was throughout the evening.
“Many people, both locals and visitors came up to me and thanked the chamber because they were so glad to see the return of the fireworks and the New Year’s Eve celebrations here,” she said.
The big crowd was a bonus for the stallholders at the park, some of whom had been nervous about the event. Mrs Godward said that many sold out. “Rotary had to go back twice to get extra food and the kebab man ran out of food too. The party shop man sent his daughter off to get more streamers and party items, stallholders were over the moon.”
Sergeant Scarlett said: “It’s the best behaved crowd that I’ve seen in six years. When you consider all the trauma that happens around the state at this time of the year, Merimbula can hold its head up. We had only a handful of incidents with nothing more serious than a minor domestic dispute and a few young people in possession of alcohol. I hope it’s a sign that the message is finally getting through.”
Chamber member, Graeme Wykes, who has been involved with six of the previous New Year’s Eve events in Merimbula, said: “It was an outstanding success, great weather, great music and a great crowd. The bands were spot on, crowd really enjoyed the night and you could feel the good vibe.”
During the day volunteers set up the stage and park area and during the course of the evening cleared rubbish. As the crowds moved away, volunteers moved in to clean up.
Mrs Godward said: “I personally was overwhelmed by the volunteers some of whom turned up at midnight to help out; I was taken aback by the level of community spirit. I left at 2am and there was still volunteers there helping to clear up.”
She was also delighted to see how much everyone appreciated the event. “When we took the bucket around we have people putting in $20 notes saying how much they enjoyed it and how glad they were the event was back.”
The night costs around $32,000, much of which is provided through sponsorship and the chamber.