Kwinana Lolly Run moved from Christmas Day
A decision to no longer hold Kwinana’s Christmas Day Lolly Run on the day itself has sparked public outcry, but Kwinana City chief executive Wayne Jack says it was the only option to save the event from being cancelled completely.
The 65-year-old tradition sees Santa and his helpers travel on the back of utes to deliver lollies to children from 7.30am on Christmas morning.
But the the City now says the event poses an “unacceptable” risk.
The volunteer-based Lolly Run began in 1954 by community group ‘TOC H’ and in recent years has been coordinated by City officers, in conjunction with the Kwinana Rotary Club.
But general health and safety concerns have forced the ritual to instead move to a multi-day event, with two specially designed trucks and experienced drivers escorting volunteers through the streets each night in the seven days leading up to Christmas.
Mr Jack said the City had grown substantially in recent decades, resulting in a need for more support and co-ordination of the event.
“Over time, it has become more evident that the Lolly Run could pose a risk of increased liability if an accident was to occur, a risk level that has become unacceptable to the City,” he said.
“The City has been grappling with this concern for the past few years.
“At the end of the day the responsibilities for the volunteers sits with the council ... it’s about coming up with a solution that can manage that risk in a more acceptable way.”
Following a risk assessment, Mr Jack said the council’s only options were to either cancel the event permanently without notice or bring the event “up to 2020 safety standards”.
A petition opposing the changes gathered more than 1300 signatures in 48 hours and totalled more than 1500.
Michael Williams — who started the petition — said the tradition began as a way of ensuring all children received something special on Christmas “regardless of social standing and their family’s financial situation”.
He said it was a tradition that “no one really wants to finish”. “People who have lived in Kwinana for 50, 60 years have experienced this their whole lives,” he said.
“With the impact on families this year due to COVID-19, there is no more important time than this year to show our community spirit, it is important that these kids have the excitement of Santa on Christmas morning.” He said the weeks before Christmas were “hectic” with more traffic on the roads and the multi-day format presented more risk than the single day.
Mayor Carol Adams said councillors opposed the cancelling of the run, but the new-look event would see the joys of Christmas extended.
“Seeing smiling children receiving lollies from Santa on Christmas morning has brought generations of Kwinana families so much joy,” she said.
“There was just no way that we could cancel the event and leave nothing in its place, especially in light of all the events that have been forced to be cancelled in 2020 across the world due to COVID19.
“The approach we are taking now will bring together the traditional elements of the Lolly Run and give it a modern twist.”
Cr Adams said volunteers would still be a key part of the event, with safety a priority. She encouraged residents to get into the Christmas spirit with neighbours and friends to hold small street celebrations on the nights the trucks are due to visit their neighbourhood.
Detailed suburb maps and other information will be released soon.
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