Lorn will play an integral role in this year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations with Maitland City Council set to funnel thousands of extra dollars into the event to provide services and activities on the northern side of the river.
Councillors voted at a meeting on Tuesday night to formally include Lorn riverbank in the event footprint and provide an additional annual funding allocation of $10,000 specifically for the Lorn side.
The family friendly New Year’s Eve program includes a range of free activities such as amusements, rides, face painting, a kids’ disco, balloon sculpting, totem tennis and interactive kids’ crafts based on the riverbank.
There is also a range of commercial food, beverages and general stalls, roving and static bands and a photo booth.
A report said that due to the growth in popularity of Maitland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, councillors needed to make a decision to expand the event footprint to include Lorn Riverbank and accommodate the ever-increasing number of people who chose to use the space during the celebrations.
Cr Arch Humphery said councillors should be extremely pleased at how the event had grown each year.
“There had been a lot of criticism from people saying that the event would never work with anti-social behaviour et cetera,” Cr Humphery said.
“Including the Lorn side is a good idea but we need to be careful and watch it closely. They will be separated from the town side.”
Cr Loretta Baker said the Lorn side was very family oriented. “By 5pm they have moved in, put up their shelters. There’s no big push to get food vans. It is already very successful on that side,” she said.
Cr Ken Wethered said he hoped it didn’t become a “them and us” scenario.
Cr Peter Garnham asked if $10,000 would be sufficient. “We will need extra security, extra toilets and two separate areas will have to be maintained.”
Cr Humphery said the event had been a great success for the city each year attracting thousands into the heart of Maitland.
“It is important we give this adequate funding and also consult with local police. There also needs to be a balance across both sides so it isn’t them and us,” Cr Humphery said.
Last year council’s riverbank fireworks display attracted more than 10,000 people. Emergency services praised the Maitland crowd for its good behaviour.