Floating on the Jacaranda Festival spirit
JUST about every available truck in Grafton was busy on Saturday afternoon carrying the most precious of cargoes, the people of the Clarence.
From exuberant tiny tots to our smiling elderly, business house staff and sporting clubs members, the Jacaranda float procession is a showcase of community spirit on many wheels.
More than 100 entries travelled the Prince St circuit with people in the hundreds lining the footpaths and verandas to wave them by.
There were the usual suspects there like 'Dame Edna' and the royal party along with a lot of newcomers embracing the festival spirit.
The judges were so impressed by the amount of community effort made, they ended up choosing joint winners for big prize the Most Outstanding Overall Float both with a sporting theme.
Kelle Murphy and Kylie Naylor were busy with their clipboards furiously writing down notes as the stream of colourful vehicles passed by, its passengers tooting and waving to garner their attention as they passed the judges panel's vantage point up on Weileys Hotel's grand veranda.
Kelle Murphy, who is also on the Jacaranda Committee executive, said there had been amazing participation this year.
"I love the fact there have been a lot more local supporters and community groups involved. The variety and feel humbled by the effort everyone gave to the festival this year and how the community gets behind it," she said.
"It's a nice feeling to sit up here and watch it go by."
Also watching it go by for the past 30 or so years was procession commentator Ron Bell whose familiar voice has been associated with the festival for as long as many can remember.
Mr Bell said he took over compeering the float procession from (the late) Alan Dahl when he became mayor.
"He used to do it from a cherry picker in the middle of Prince St. I'm scared to stand on a chair so I did it twice up there", Mr Bell said.
"I remember the rural fire service hosing me one year so I resigned to the safety of Weiley's verandah after that."
- Most Outstanding Overall Float: Joint winners for creativity - Grafton Netball Association and Junction Hill Tennis Club.
- Best Jacaranda Themed Floral Float: Crystal's Little Gems Family Daycare
- Best Vehicle: Edith Usher for her great effort adding lips and eyelashes.
- Best Band: Maclean Pipe Band
- Best Group, Childcare or School: New School of Arts Early Learning & Oosh Centre.
- Best Commercial Entry: Studio 1 Dance Academy.
- Best Charitable Organisation: Grafton Army Cadets.