While preparations for this year’s Soul Street NYE event in Byron Bay are underway, there is still more engagement needed from the business community, says chamber of commerce (Byron United) president Michael O’Grady.
‘A small contribution would ensure a positive family event, something which we are all aiming for,’ he told The Echo.
A carnival-styled street festival was put in place after recent NYE celebrations in the town looked in danger of returning to the boozy mess of the 1990s. And again this year, Jonson Street will be closed to traffic all the way to Lawson St and renamed ‘Soul Street’.
Mr O’Grady says he’s been walking the streets and talking to business owners but it’s been tough to secure the funding needed, which is estimated to be around $8,000.
The callout is supported by Soul Street’s co-organiser Mouche Phillips. ‘We are going to need all the help we can to meet budget,’ she says.
‘Falls Festival and Byron Shire Council are the biggest contributors,’ she says, ‘And there has been a generous donation from the Byron Bay Liquor Accord.’
She says so far, Fish Heads, The Beach Hotel, the Holiday Letting Organisation, The Byron Beach Cafe, The Balcony and The Byron Bay English School have all contributed.
The Echo will also be contributing funds.
But what about one of the biggest businesses in the town – Woolworths?
The Echo asked its media spokesperson if Woolies would be prepared to stump up cash for the event to ensure the town has a safe and family-friendly NYE.
While the spokesperson for Woolworths declined to answer that question, they did reply on what contributions they make to the community.
‘Woolworths is a proud and active member of local communities around Australia. Last year we contributed $47 million to great causes around the country. We don’t always shout about it but we are happy to play our part.
‘In the Byron Bay area we donated $30,000 to local schools through our Earn and Learn program, something we look forward to continuing next year.
‘We host community barbecues at least once a week at our store, with community groups like the CWA and Byron scouts among the most enthusiastic users.’
In reference to recent comments by Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson regarding the lack of Woolies support for Schoolies Week, the spokesperson replied: ‘We are always happy to work with local councils. If the council is interested on seeking our help with Schoolies Week or indeed any community event, they of course are welcome to approach us.’
To get involved with this year’s Soul Street NYE event, call Mouche on 6685 6807 or email [email protected]