A brighter Christmas

THE lights on Casino's first-ever community Christmas tree will be officially switched on by Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett tomorrow night.

The tree, sponsored by Metgasco, will illuminate Casino's CBD throughout the festive season from its position on the Mafeking Lamp roundabout.

The idea for the tree came from Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker, a former Sydneysider who could not believe the town didn't have a tree for the festive season.

"I remember asking someone where does the Christmas tree go," Mr Walker said. "And I was told we don't have one and the council can't afford to buy one.

I firmly believe every community should have a Christmas tree, so I set about getting one. A Christmas tree covered in lights and decorations will add atmosphere and generate a sense of community and Christmas spirit in the town.

After deciding the town needed a Christmas tree, Mr Walker went on the hunt for sponsors. He approached Metgasco, knowing there were few other businesses in the town able to put up the $10,000 needed to buy the 6.4m-high artificial tree and decorations.

"They (Metgasco) generously agreed to do it for the town," he said.

Mr Walker said he was comfortable accepting the Metgasco sponsorship even though the council was currently in the process of determining a position statement on the coal seam gas industry in the Richmond Valley.

He said they were two totally different issues.

Mr Walker said Metgasco was a legitimate business, headquartered in Casino, which employed up to 18 people and wanted to contribute to the community.

"The community is lucky to have a tree and to getsomeone to pay for it," he said.

The ceremonial turning-on of the lights at 8pm is being held in conjunction with the Casino Artisans, Song and Food Market, which will get going in the town centre tomorrow at 4.30pm.

The market will feature more than 30 craft, food and gift stalls, and there will be a visit by Santa and Mrs Claus, jumping castles, face painting, chalk art and entertainment by local musicians.

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