As the Harbour Festival dial is cranked up to ‘Party Time!’ I’d like to remind everyone that this week is not all about some chocolate dispensing rabbit invading our homes in the dead of night, but a time when we Gladstonians’ gather together to celebrate a sacred and ritual filled occasion; the annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race!
For one glorious week, anyone who has trundled a pedal boat across a small pond can pretend to be a Grotty Yachty. And as a fog of rum fumes fills the Yacht Club, the petty bickering between sail and power boat owners is magically forgotten. We tinnie captains nobly overlook the times some malicious yachty, with the tacking skills of an echidna, forced us onto a sandbar. While sailboat skippers kindly forgive the occasions we roared past them laughing like hyenas, creating a wash that upset their cheese platters. Because this week is a time of peace at berth, and goodwill amongst all seamen; yes, even charter boat operators.
Meanwhile, over at the Marina parklands, entertainers and musicians delight huge crowds each night as old friends and new faces, laugh and sing-along together like army buddies at a re-union. Where even people like me, who dance like we are fighting an invisible gorilla, are cheerfully tolerated.
And in sideshow alley, thrill seekers huddle together on the extreme rides, united in horror as the results of too many fatty foods and sugar filled drinks, combined with eye popping G-forces, produces quite a colourful, and slightly smelly, display. Like the fireworks that fill our skies with a spectacular array of light and sound. “Aaaw!” we gush, faces upturned to the glittering lights. And as highflying rockets explode in the stratosphere, terrified dogs all over town snap their leads and run together in panicking packs through our streets.
Finally, on Easter Sunday, we congregate one more time for a traditional, and time-honoured, Gladstone ceremony; welcoming the last of the competing yachts across the finish line. Because this week isn’t about winning, it’s about taking part in a fun filled celebration with all the various groups that make up our harbour loving community; then stuffing our faces with chocolate!