For 40 years, Greater Shepparton families and friends have flocked to Mooroopna to bring in the new year and celebrate the one that was.
Like so many other events before it though, COVID-19 has forced the Rotary Club of Mooroopna to pull the pin on this year’s New Year’s Eve festival.
Rotary Club of Mooroopna president Kelvin Rogash cited the imposed restrictions owing to COVID-19 and ongoing uncertainty around public events as the reason for the 2020 cancellation.
“The board had made the difficult decision not to proceed with this year’s event,” Mr Rogash said.
“The club has been discussing the effect of the lockdown and the restrictions on our event and car raffle since the middle of the year, working hard to discuss other options apart from cancellation.
“But we recognise that the current restrictions we are working under made it impossible for the event to occur.”
The car raffle, usually drawn at the festival, has also been cancelled.
Proceeds of up to $30,000 a year would usually go towards supporting local charities in the Greater Shepparton region.
“We agonised over the decision of the raffle,” Mr Rogash said.
“But at the end of the day you’ve got to consider everyone’s safety.
“We were hoping we’d be opened up and ready to go, but you just couldn’t be sure of it.”
Mr Rogash said despite the disappointment of pulling the pin on 2020, the club was already planning the 2021 event to be something “bigger and better” for the community, restrictions permitting.
“We know there are many in the community each year who hope they have the winning car raffle ticket and there are thousands of families who thoroughly enjoy the festivities each year, especially the fireworks,” he said.
“But in the interests of everyone’s safety and the COVID-19 regulations that we are under it was the only decision that could be made.”
Pandemic aside, there would have been a lot worth celebrating for the club this festive season.
This coming April will mark 100 years since the first Rotary clubs started in Australia and New Zealand.
But the show must go on, and it will, soon enough.
“We’ll be back with a vengeance next year,” Mr Rogash said,
“Despite not being able to have the New Year’s Eve festival or the car raffle, we look forward to celebrating our Rotary milestone in other ways.
“We’ll still be able to do things like walks, or put on barbecues or functions, but we’ll plan more for that in February and March next year.”