Christmas spirit fails to rub off on vandals
By Fay Knight firstname.lastname@example.org IT SEEMS not everyone is embracing the spirit of Christmas in Byron Bay.
Despite it being the first time the town has had its own Christmas tree, vandalism has forced the tree's owners, Byron United, to put closed-circuit television cameras on Santa's wish-list for next year.
The new tree is also raising eyebrows because of its $30,000 cost; and even at that price, not everyone thinks it's an attractive addition to the town. The tree, which was switched on at a lighting and carols ceremony late last month, is expected to last at least a decade, if not two.
"We're very disappointed with the vandalism," Byron United president Ed Ahern said yesterday.
"Graffiti has been put on the trunk, the tree has been climbed on, drunken teens have thrown rocks at it, and kids have stolen the electrical fittings and ripped off the balls.
"I'm really, really disappointed in the vandalism to our beautiful monument to Byron's community spirit.
"It's the first time the business community has gathered in a united front and paid for something on its own."
Mr Ahern is not put off by some of the negative remarks he has received about the high cost of the tree.
"It's Christmas, you have a Christmas tree," he said. "But it's not the only thing we bought with the money.
"We've put fairy lights on both the pandanus trees on the roundabouts in Lawson Street. Both have solar panels and we've put in lots and lots of infrastructure."
While some locals have described the tree as looking like something out of The Simpsons, and others have wondered how the money could have been better spent, most people The Northern Star questioned yesterday felt the tree did add some festive atmosphere to the town.
Backpackers from Canada and Switzerland, who were having trouble adjusting to the Christmas heat, said the tree was 'very nice' and symbolised Byron Bay's 'peaceful atmosphere', but felt a Christmas tree was 'out of place' without snow.