Years of experience has taught that the Christmas event is held early in December. In fact it’s been the first Saturday in December for as long as anyone can remember. It’s traditionally held on a Saturday, so there can be a rain date on the Sunday without too much re-arranging. The well established ‘Carols by the Sea’ is then held the following weekend, again with a suitable rain date - just in case. Because of good contingency planning the Community (later Local) Board Christmas event has been delivered on the same weekend every single year.
This year, there was no contingency planning. Indeed very little planning seems to have gone into the event at all with responsibility left to an inexperienced and new Board Member John Meeuwsen. A hurried notice on a Facebook page and a quick email around was the only warning given that the event had been cancelled, along with a scrambled attempt to resurrect parts of it at the Carols by the Sea event next weekend.
From personal experience of helping organise the highly successful 2012 Christmas Festival, I know that delivering a quality event takes a year of co-ordination and planning and the input of a dedicated team. Trying to throw together a quality event in just a few weeks just won’t cut it; and it didn’t. The Board failed to make a proper contingency plan in the event of cancellation for weather or any other factor.
Christmas comes but once a year. All in all it was inexcusable to disappoint the Island’s children in this way, many of them will have been looking forward to seeing Santa and getting into the festive mood. Mums and Dads, Nanas and Grand-dads will have been disappointed too.
Doubly disappointing is the reluctance of the Local Board to bring some Christmas spirit to Oneroa in the form of street banners or similar. Fresh into office in 2013, the Board canned the first Local Board’s Oneroa banner project and the specially designed banner poles have been empty ever since. Thank goodness Sculpture in Oneroa falls at this time of the year to add a bit of interest and colour to the street and some Oneroa businesses have made an effort to brighten up Oneroa for the holiday season. Otherwise, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Santa has forgotten Waiheke altogether.
A Local Board that tries to cash in on being community focussed has failed to deliver a key community event. Why? - Because they’ve ‘thrown out the baby with the bathwater’; won’t build on the experience of those who preceded them and don’t draw on the relevant expertise within Council.
Bringing in a paid ‘organiser’ and commercial stallholders (fresh from Ostend Market) was never going to be a recipe for success. The paid organiser will not be disappointed at the cancellation. They will still get their share of the $23000 budget. The stallholders will be disappointed but shouldn’t be. The Waiheke Christmas Party/Event/Festival is an opportunity for the Board to give back some ratepayers’ money in the form of free entertainment and an opportunity for local groups to show the community what they do. This event and Carols by the Sea are not just another opportunity for commercial activities and to part people from their hard earned money.
Maybe after they’ve read this blog the Local Board will make a contingency plan up in case the weather upsets Carols by the Sea next weekend, but I doubt it there isn't enough time left.
Cancelling the main Local Board event of the year sums up the Board’s first year in office. It has failed to deliver. The Walden Grinch has stolen so much from the community already. It’s hardly surprising he should strike at Christmas as well.