RITUAL: Families flock to Bangalow's Christmas Eve Celebration every year.
RITUAL: Families flock to Bangalow's Christmas Eve Celebration every year. Lyn McCarthy

Popular Christmas Eve event in danger of getting Grinched

CHRISTMAS just would not be the same without the annual Christmas Eve Celebration in Bangalow.

It's a Byron Shire ritual and thousands flock there each year to catch up with friends and family.

Currently the Christmas Eve celebration survives on the goodwill of the community and small group of backers large and small.

But with increasing costs President of the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce Jo Millar fears the popular family event may soon fall victim to Christmas Grinches.

"We have some wonderful sponsors at the moment," Ms Miller said.

"There are also other businesses in town who do very well out of the evening so it would be wonderful to get their support as well."

Ms Millar said tasks previously performed by volunteers were now required to be carried out by professional organisations

"In the past tasks like road closures would be done by local volunteers but we are required to hire traffic controllers for the night," she said.

"We will also be bringing in Portaloos for the evening due to the pressure on existing facilities.

"All the artists who entertain the crowd for free, like the internationally renown Space Cowboy, are paid a very small fee and must carry insurance, so are allowed to busk on the night.

"It ends up costing the Chamber around $15,000 to put on the event each year."

The origins of the event date back to the 1930's when the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce sent three trucks around the district to pick up all the farming families in the area.

"While Mum and Dad did the Christmas shopping and caught up with friends the children would be entertained," Ms Millar said.

"The celebration is still a really important event for the town after everyone has rushed towards Christmas, organising food and family and presents and travel.

"It seems like the night is the time when everyone finally gathers with friends, takes a deep breath and breathes out a massive collective sigh of relief.

Ms Millar said planning is already under way for this years celebration.

"This event takes as much to organise as any of the other Shire events and festivals, so we are really desperate for any additional support," she said.

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