Toni Zuschke and Natascha Wernick at Santaland in Murwillumbah.
Toni Zuschke and Natascha Wernick at Santaland in Murwillumbah. John Gass

Brightening the night sky

MURWILLUMBAH will come alive at dusk each evening into the new year when 50,000 colourful lights across the CBD are switched on for the inaugural Festival of Light.

The Christmas lights adorn local business houses, shops and hotels as well as both sides of the Murwillumbah Bridge spanning the Tweed River.

The spectacular Murwillumbah Festival of Light is a co-production between the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber, Tweed Shire Council,

Essential Energy and the catalyst which got the whole ball rolling, Gold Coast building engineering firm, EMF Griffiths.

EMF Griffiths not only proposed the Festival of Light idea to the Murwil- lumbah DBC but also chipped in with $10,000 to help fund the promotion.

Chamber liaison officer Natascha Wernick described the generous donation as a "truly wonderful gesture" and a "tremendous way in which to promote our town and help our retailers".

EMF Griffiths office manager Vicki Barfett lives at Upper Crystal Creek, and Murwillumbah is her local "big town" - she came up with the Festival of Light proposal and "sweet-talked" her community-conscious company into sponsoring the event.

"The whole idea is to bring families back into the centre of town. To eat an ice-cream and stroll around the CBD admiring the lights and the Christmas decorations," Mrs Barfett said.

"We intend this to be a long-term involvement with Murwillumbah and each year we will build on what we have achieved this year.

"Next year we hope to invite someone famous to officially turn on the lights."

Ms Wernick was profuse in her praise of EMF Griffiths' innovative idea and sponsorship and the support given to the project by Tweed Shire Council and Essential Energy, whose staff installed the lights.

The council funded the lighting on the bridge and a number of trees in the heart of the town, the council chambers, Destination Tweed Visitor Information Centre and Bray Park Water Treatment Works.

"We will be encouraging all shopkeepers in the town to join in by decorating their premises and they will also be encouraging them to stay open late on Thursday and Fridays prior to Christmas," Ms Wernick said.

Those businesses which participate in the Festival of Light will be in line for prizes for Best Display, Most Energy Sustainable Display and the People's Choice Award.

The public can vote by dropping their choices into Santaland where the kids can admire a fantastic Christmas display and have their photos taken with Santa Claus.

The chamber has also arranged for drop-bins in Coles, IGA and Santaland where non-perishable food and gifts can be left for the less fortunate.

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