After 10 years, Southlake Christmas Spectacular in Morisset cancelled

LIGHT SHOW: The Southlake Christmas Spectacular featured a mix of community and professional entertainment, including this fire twirler, in 2012. Picture: Supplied
LIGHT SHOW: The Southlake Christmas Spectacular featured a mix of community and professional entertainment, including this fire twirler, in 2012. Picture: Supplied

THIS year’s Southlake Christmas Spectacular has been cancelled, ending a 10-year tradition in Morisset.

The event’s founder, Rosmairi Dawson, said she was saddened by the news.

The family Christmas celebration was set to fold because of financial pressures, and the absence of an organisation to stage the event, Ms Dawson said.

“But the community might have other ideas...” she said, still hopeful that a community benefactor could save it.

The event was originally staged by Southlake Business Chamber, in 2007, and was later run by the merged Southlakes Business Chamber and Community Alliance (SLBCCA).

Last year, SLBCCA handed the reins to Morisset Rotary Club who have indicated they cannot host the event this December.

“That means there is no organisation to auspice the event,” Ms Dawson said.

Between $12,000 and $15,000 is required to stage the Christmas Spectacular.

Ms Dawson said Lake Macquaurie City Council had been a generous supporter of the event from the beginning.

“Council has made a substantial contribution over the whole 10 years. It could not have gone ahead without them,” she said.

Council’s annual contribution to the event peaked at $4000 for each of 2013 and 2014, and was $3000 last year.

But a spokesperson for the council said no funding had been sought for the event this year.

“Council met with members of the Morisset Rotary Club earlier this year and they indicated they would not be able to run the event in 2017, due to a lack of resources. As a result, they did not seek funding from council,” the spokesperson said.

At its peak, the Southlake Christmas Spectacular attracted crowds of more than 2000 people, Ms Dawson said. In recent years, that number had dropped to about 1500.

Other Christmas events in the district had affected crowds at Morisset, she said.

“The Avondale event, while not on the same weekend, is more highly funded and better resourced, and is attracting more numbers, which did detract from ours over the last couple of years,” she said.

Rosmairi Dawson

Rosmairi Dawson

In addition, there are now six other Christmas carols events held on community land in the area, including the regional carols at Speers Point Park, and community carols at Toronto and Wangi Wangi.

Ms Dawson said one aspect of the Southlake Christmas Spectacular that would be missed by families was the fireworks.

“There is no other fireworks display in the district at all, for any occasion,” she said.

The event, held at Morisset Showground or Bernie Goodwin Oval, was also known for its community entertainment. 

“We always had a mix of community entertainers and professional content. We had all of the local dance schools participate, local choirs and brass bands, as well as the more professional performers,” Ms Dawson said.

“And the entertainment program was varied from year to year.”

Ms Dawson said it was hard to accept that the show was over.

“It’s an event that I’ve loved. So many children from the area have grown up with this event – including my own.”

She said the happy mood at each Southlake Christmas Spectacular was palpable.

“It was a big event, a really happy event, and a very social event for families,” she said.

It would regularly feature Santa and the singing of carols, and often amusement rides and community displays.

“One thing we particularly loved about it was seeing the teenagers catch up from all of the different local schools and walk around, enjoying themselves in a safe environment.”

Ms Dawson commended the many organisations and entertainers who had contributed. Among them was Morisset Rotary, and the Rural Fire Service.

She conceded, however, that the event might simply have had its day.

But what if an organisation had plans to resurrect the event?

“Then I’d be more than happy to pass on all of the information and contacts, and even the signs, to help make that happen,” she said.