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Bah, humbug: Westpac forced to pull pin on Xmas lights

FUTURE UNCERTAIN: Trinity Drive Christmas Lights at Val Stuckey’s house.
FUTURE UNCERTAIN: Trinity Drive Christmas Lights at Val Stuckey’s house. DOUG EATON

IT'S not quite the Grinch who stole Christmas, but Trinity Drive's annual Christmas light show will no longer be fundraising for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Residents of Goonellabah's most festive street have all received a letter from the helicopter service informing them of a review of the event from a "risk management perspective", and their decision to discontinue their association.

The Trinity lights have been running for 19 years and have raised $165,000 for the helicopter service.

And it seems that it's a case of the success and popularity of the event that could be its downfall.

Helicopter crew chief Roger Fry said the decision was based on the level of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the one-way street which caused major congestion, and which would make it incredibly difficult for an emergency service vehicle to gain access if one was needed.

"We have deemed that the risk to reputation and the safety risk (to residents and visitors) with the emergency vehicle access was too high to continue to run the event," Mr Fry said.

He said it was something that had been a concern for some time but there was no way he could see to mitigate the risks.

The Northern Star spoke to several residents of Trinity Drive, but nobody had talked to their neighbours about the future of the yuletide lights.

Val Stuckey was one of the founders of the events and regularly has one of the most impressive light displays on her house.

She said she would love to keep it going.

"I have always enjoyed it and a lot of people put in a lot of work," she said.

Mrs Stuckey said it was a shame the helicopter service would no longer be involved, because it had been a good association between them and the residents.

She estimated visitors donated about $11,000 to $12,000 at the lights each year.

Another founder, Kay McGrath, said the helicopter was a great cause and that's why everybody did it.

She also hoped it would continue.

Topics:  christmas lights, editors picks, westpac



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