Carols by Candlelight resurrected

SANTA has delivered an early Christmas present to the families of Coffs Harbour.

The much-loved Carols by Candlelight has been resurrected following a frantic few days of rallying by business leaders.

They were forced to act after our Wednesday front page story revealed the organisers, LifeHouse Church, had pulled out due to a lack of corporate financial support.

The 2010 Christmas carols will now take place at the Coffs Harbour Racing Club, which is organising the extravaganza, for December 18.

“When my colleague told me about the article I said ‘you are joking, we can’t have that’,” said the racing club’s events manager Simon Chladil. “I have lived in Coffs 25 years this December and I couldn’t bear the thought of kids not having carols.”

He has secured a $2500 grant from Coffs Harbour City Council along with sponsorship from the Coffs Coast Advocate, McDonald’s, Park Beach Plaza, ETC, Star FM, NBN and of course the racing club, which is donating $10,000 worth of services and time.

“I told people my idea was to give something back to the community. My feeling over the past few years is it was a community event which had lost track,” Mr Chladil said. “I’m organising it on the basis the carols will be non-denominational and will be long-term, not just this year, and the business houses recognise that.

“They recognise I’m not doing it half-heartedly and that it can continue and grow. If you were staging this event on full retail costs you would be looking at $60,000, but due to the support in this town I’ve already been offered a lot of free services and support services. With cash sponsorships I’ve raised in excess of $20,000 to cover all costs and in-kind services of close to $30,000 again.”

Mr Chladil said Carols by Candlelight would have free entry and choristers would be sourced from local primary schools, high schools and senior choirs.

“The Julie Ross Dancers will have five different dance routines to various carols and songs and I’m organising local singers and choirs. It’s all about the local community – we want the community to have their carols back.”

The racing club is going green with a laser show instead of fireworks and the stage will be on the track facing the grandstand, allowing people to set up their picnic baskets and blankets and settle in for the night.

There will also be reserved grandstand seating for people with disabilities. Jumping castles, face painting and rides, NBN’S Big Dog, food stalls and of course Santa himself will also be trackside. No alcohol will be allowed on the grounds. Glow candles will be on sale and proceeds will benefit the Coffs Harbour Surf Club.

The SES will co-ordinate carparking, which will carry a gold coin donation. Shuttle buses will run from Woolworths in Park Avenue to the course and back – the bus trip will cost adults $2 and children under-16 will travel free.

Gates open at 4.30pm, the main performances 6pm, the laser show at 8.30pm and a grand finale will wrap up the spectacular.

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