Picturing an eventful spring and summer for Georges River

Back to the future: Drive-ins, such as Dubbo's Westview drive-in are becoming popular with COVID with new rules in place. Soon Georges River may be joining the trend with a Drive-in Movie Marathon for Halloween
Back to the future: Drive-ins, such as Dubbo's Westview drive-in are becoming popular with COVID with new rules in place. Soon Georges River may be joining the trend with a Drive-in Movie Marathon for Halloween

A 'Frightful Eighties' Drive-in Movie Marathon for Halloween is just one of the events proposed by Georges River Council this spring and summer to encourage residents to connect while observing COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Food markets, either ticketed or drive-through, mobile musicians performing in town squares, digital storytimes, mental health webinars, a fancy dress fun run and community sports fan days are some of the other events being proposed.

Following the cancellation of the Lugarno Lions Spring Fair and the Oatley Village Lions Spring Festival, the council was asked to consider developing a COVID-19 Safe Community Event Program to support small community events that connect the community.

The idea was suggested by Councillor Kathryn Landsberry in a Notice of Motion submitted at last month's Georges River Council meeting.

The Lugarno and Oatley festivals attract more than 45,000 patrons and are a vital part of the annual event calendar.

It is anticipated that more community events will be cancelled in the upcoming months that are traditionally scheduled for the spring and summer season.

With NSW Public Health Order restrictions on public gatherings, the council staff feel it is too great a risk to community safety to move ahead with its traditional events such as Magic of Christmas, the Australia Day Festival and the Lunar New Year Festival in their current format.

Councillor Landsberry suggested that the council reallocate $53,500 it was to spend on community events towards a COVID-19 Safe Community Event Program.

According to a report that went before the latest Georges River Council Community and Culture Committee meeting, these could include streaming of online, live performances, drive-in events and ticketed events.

Suggested events could include:

A Get Connected online mental health awareness webinar series targeting a range of demographics including preschool, primary school and high school students.

Georges River Council Food Markets with takeaway and fresh produce. These events could be gated to ensure crowd control.

The Frightful Eighties Drive-in Movie Marathon, perhaps to be held at a local school. The theme would be halloween and the 1980s with a 'best dressed' competition for best dressed vehicle..

Mobile Musos would see local artists performing live music in town squares across the local government area, giving musicians the opportunity to perform in high foot traffic areas and bringing vibrancy to the town centres.

At Christmas there would be online storytime with Santa, decorations and carollers throughout the LGA, the annual Christmas Lights competition, and a Christmas Ice Rink to be held during the Christmas school holidays with social distancing requirements.

The Georges River Fun Run would be a fancy dress theme fun run for serious and casual walkers and runners.

There could be community sports fan days with the St George Illawarra Dragons, Sydney FC and other professional and community sporting associations.

The Australia Day Award Ceremony and citizenship Ceremony would be held at the Marana Auditorium, if deemed safer under the Public Health Order, and streamed live.

And there would be a new award category, the Georges River COVID-9 Award to recognised individuals in the local government area who have significantly supported vulnerable members of the Georges River community as a result of COVID-19.

All these events would be 'scalable' meaning the program could still continue with minor interruptions or delay should there be increased restrictions on public gatherings, or if restrictions ease, the program can be adapted to allow larger numbers of attendees.

The aim of the program is to foster a sense of community, inspire people to safely experience activities in the Georges River area, and to support local businesses.

Attendee numbers will be controlled using a ticketing system and there will be hygiene and physical distancing measures in addition to COVID-19 safety marshalls.

Events would also use online platforms to reach a broad audience in their homes, workplace or schools.