Education dept bows to parents pulling kids out for Jaca

JACARANDA Thursday is synonymous with many things for Graftonians, but jumping castles, slides, dress-ups and picnics in the park all involve kids.

And when Grafton's parents heard their children may miss the festival day because the council had stripped its half-day public holiday status there was widespread outrage.

A lot of community members pointed out the holiday was one of just a few family-friendly events in the Valley.

Luckily the Department of Education has seen sense on the issue.

Kirsty Stephenson explains why her daughter won't go to school on Jaca Thursday

Here is just a taste of what's planned for Jaca Thursday

And a spokesman confirmed, after Grafton's schools met with the Jacaranda Committee, a note from parents saying "we're attending Jaca" will suffice to get the tykes the day off.

But he said those parents who had to work, because Jaca is no longer a public holiday, could have confidence school was on "and there will be learning to be done".

When the debate was taken to The Daily Examiner's Facebook page, it received more than 50 comments in the first day.

Many parents said that regardless of what the government had to say, there was no way their kid would be stuck in school on Jacaranda Thursday.

The Jacaranda Committee was chuffed with all the attention and promised the festival would be bigger and better than ever.

"We love all of the comments and discussion around Jacaranda Thursday," the committee posted.

"Of course the Jacaranda Festival and Jacaranda Thursday is still on and is bigger, better and stronger than ever in 2013."

But some people used the debate as an opportunity to complain about being water-bombed or covered in shaving cream in the past.

Eithan Still, originally of Maclean but now living in Brisbane, took to Facebook to lament an unfortunate incident.

"Jacaranda has become the worst celebration and it's normally kids that ruin it!" Mr Still wrote.

"For example, I was minding my own business then out of nowhere I got egged and shaving creamed, so my opinion, send the little gronks to school!"

But his comment drew the ire of Grafton's Wanda Avery.

"Yes, there are a few teens who run amok with the shaving cream and stuff, but you really can't blame all the kids for the actions of a few," Ms Avery commented.

"And calling them gronks ... bit harsh there mate.

"In my opinion, the kids should have a special area to use the shaving cream and stuff. They aren't going to stop doing it, so may as well make it a safe area away from the rest of the people."

Councillor Craig Howe reassured the public that if stripping Jaca Thursday of its half-day public holiday status did not work, the council could always backflip next year.

Kirsty Stephenson explains why her daughter won't go to school on Jaca Thursday

AS KIRSTY Stephenson sees things, not sending her daughter to school on Jacaranda Thursday is just confirming what she's always done and always will do.

Ms Stephenson, like many people in the Clarence Valley, was outraged when she heard the long- standing half-day public holiday had been downgraded to an event day by the council.

The change means children are technically required to attend school.

But Ms Stephenson was having none of it.

"I would have just said you can go stick it," she said.

"The kids only get one day to let their hair down."

She acknowledged teenagers had caused some problems water-bombing bystanders or squirting them with water pistols in the past.

But she said the incidents were really just harmless fun.

"One year I saw the police ripping through the bag of every teenager and I was horrified," Ms Stephenson said.

She said she had lived in Grafton for the past 15 years and watched her son, who has now left school, really enjoy the day.

"It's a real tradition," she said.

Here is just a taste of what's planned for Jaca Thursday

(Official times and schedule to come.)

  • 2GF breakfast
  • Market stalls down the main street
  • Hoola-hoop entertainment for the kids
  • Entertainment by the schools
  • The Mad Cow - like a mechanical bull.
  • Skits from businesses
  • Talent quest
  • And much more!

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