17 December 2020

'Light up the Bay' to mark New Year's Eve bushfire anniversary

| Kim Treasure
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Christmas tree at Batemans Bay foreshore.

The Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce is welcoming locals and tourists to ‘Light up the Bay’ this New Year’s Eve. Photo: Supplied.

One year on from the devastating New Year’s Eve bushfires, the Batemans Bay community is being invited to ‘Light up the Bay’ in a much more positive fashion.

Hosted by the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber and the Love the Bay BB campaign, the event aims to raise local spirits and welcome back tourists after a tough year for everyone.

Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce president Mathew Hatcher said striking the right note and delivering a COVID-19-safe event on New Year’s Eve has proved challenging, but organisers hope ‘Light up the Bay’ will create new hope for the future.

With emotions still raw for many people, organisers have had to be careful not to celebrate or commemorate the day that literally changed the face of much of the Eurobodalla. Instead, they have opted to mark the anniversary by saying thanks to emergency services and hopefully providing a turning point for residents.

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Mr Hatcher said the name of the event initially raised some eyebrows, but people soon got onboard.

“A couple of people asked if there were going to be fireworks, but as soon as we said no they were better about it,” he said.

“We’ve gone with the light show option only and I think that’s going to be for the best.

“We very much wanted to put on a traditional style event for our community, but given the circumstances with COVID-19, we had to think outside the box.

“From 6pm on New Year’s Eve, there will be music the whole family can enjoy, surrounded by a beautifully lit foreshore and adjoining streetscapes.

Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Hatcher.

Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Hatcher. Photo: Supplied.

“We are just so excited that so many of our chamber members and local venues are coming together to create an evening for the whole community.

“We know the locals and local businesses have so much to offer, and we’ve been overwhelmed with offers of corporate support and commitment from local businesses to take part. This is what our community is all about.”

Special guests will include former NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who is now Commissioner of Resilience NSW, and NSW Rural Fire Service Batemans Bay Captain Ian Aitken.

Businesses from across Batemans Bay and Mogo have pledged support for ‘Light up the Bay’ and a number of shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs will be extending trading on Thursday, 31 December, 2020.

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“At this stage we would just like to call out for more community members to come forward to help as volunteers on the night,” said Mr Hatcher.

“Due to current COVID-19 regulations, more assistance is needed than with regular events.”

Busking on the foreshore and Murra Murra Mia Walk will start at 6 pm on New Year’s Eve, and the public is encouraged to enjoy dinner or a takeaway meal at a local eatery before or after visiting the foreshore to see the lights.

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Rachel Aramati11:47 pm 30 Dec 20

I think that encouraging people to congregate in numbers is highly irresponsible given the current Covid-19 warnings. I can appreciate the need to mark a year on from the bushfires. We also never want another new year like last year and celebrate the fact that we are moving on from those dark days, however do we really want an outbreak of another kind. There are a lot of visitors to the Bay from Sydney Canberra and other places and the safest option would be to create a light show that can be appreciated from distant vantage points rather than the message being… Come one and all eat at the restaurants and lets all get together down at the beach. What a scary thought!!

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