WARRNAMBOOL was transformed into a magical Christmas village on Friday night when hundreds of families gathered for a festive community event.
The CBD came alive with late-night shopping, outdoor dining and free activities including buskers, performers, sidewalk markets and craft stalls. The Civic Green was a focus with horse and carriage rides, a snow zone and children’s amusements.
Warrnambool City Council’s business support manager Tanya Egan said the event exceeded all expectations.
“We observed thousands of people in Liebig Street,” Ms Egan said. “We probably under-estimated the interest the community would have ... There appeared to be a need for people to get together, especially because of the (Telstra) communication breakdown.
“There was a real sense of being together and a sense of being a community.”
Ms Egan said last year the council held a Christmas shopping night but changed the theme this year so it became a community celebration.
“It was an event saying ‘come together Warrnambool, let’s celebrate Christmas’.”
She said the area around the Civic Green had a European feel thanks to the snow machine and about 60 excited children joined in a countdown for Santa to light up the city’s Christmas tree.
“It’s all about the kids and the way they screamed when Santa arrived was wonderful and when it came to lighting the tree it was just amazing.”
The feedback about the night on The Standard’s Facebook page was overwhelmingly positive yesterday, with many people commenting on how busy the CBD was.
However, several people suggested that Liebig Street should have been closed to traffic to improve safety for excited children, with some reporting near-misses at intersections and pedestrian crossings.
Ms Egan said the council would decide whether the Christmas night would become an annual event.