Thousands of Yass locals and travellers right around the Yass Valley Region lined Comur Street last Thursday night, 15 December, for the town’s annual Christmas parade and night markets.

While dark clouds and wet weather threatened early in the afternoon, thankfully the rain stayed away for a fabulous whole-town event that brought the community together. 

Yass Valley Concert Band conducted by Mr Bryan Hooley kept the crowds in the street entertained with Christmas carol favourites in front of the historic Yass Post Office

One of the organisers of the event, Yass Valley SPIN Foundation’s Barry O’Mara spoke about the success of the event and also is already thinking of ways the Christmas parade and markets can be improved for next year.

“I was very happy with the way the event went. The weather held up beautifully, we were a bit worried there for a little while when the clouds rolled in, but it didn’t affect us,” Barry said.

“The crowds really started to grow from about 5pm and all seemed to have a great time. 

Markets on the main street – L-R Manning his woodcraft stall is Jim Hutton OBE, Sally Hutton & former Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey, now current Chair of Regional Development Australia Southern Inland

“I think the working group committee could look at pushing that start back from 4pm to 5pm next year. It was a bit quiet during that 4pm region until about 5pm. It’s something that we’ll take on board and discuss for next year.

“There was a slight issue with the road management plan which caused a bit of chaos with car traffic flow, but that was sorted after a while.

“We’re over the moon with the parade itself. Everyone was super organised. We kept them abreast of what was happening and where it was all happening.

Yass Show Society’s quintessential “Yass” Parade Foat

Yass’ very own World International Royalty Pageant Ambassadors sisters duo Chantal Fleming & Julie Armstrong

Alfred & Marion McArthy ride in style alongside Yass & District Historical Society members in early settler period costume

Berinba Students scootered into parade history as the only tinselled peddle-powered display

‘Patient’ Cooper on the trolley as part of the NSW Ambulance Yass parade entry

SES vehicle decked out in Christmas style – one of the many emergency service vehicles featured in the parade with plenty of waves from an appreciative crowd

Yass Valley Triathlon Club were forced to keep it to a stroll this time but were very energised as they greeted the crowd

Mayor & retired main street shop owner Mr Allan McGrath walking with the Yass Valley Youth Council as lollies were handed out to the crowd

A blow uo Santa catching a ride with 2CC Radio entrant with local children Apollo & Rosella waving

“We marshalled all our emergency services vehicles up at Walker Park to just free up a little bit of space. We doubled in the numbers of floats this year. There were lots of people walking in the parade this year too representing their schools or organisations, which was great. 

“The Council and other vehicles assembled up at Coronation Park and we coordinated with our marshalls in each area and it all ran away quite smoothly.”

The market stalls were also a popular success, however, Barry thinks the working group committee will reassess stalls in the Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall for future events.

“I spoke to Pam Staines who is in charge of the market side of things, along with Mandy Carter, and she said she had some positive feedback and then some not so positive feedback,” Barry continued.

“Unfortunately, we had to put a lot of stalls in the Hall because there’s no power outlets in the main street and a lot of stalls required power to run.

“We put 30 stalls in the Memorial Hall thinking it would become a bit of a hub, but the feedback I got was there wasn’t much atmosphere in there. 

“They didn’t get to see the parade and the flow in and out was a bit spasmodic at times. So that’s something again, we’ll have to take on board, it’s very hard because there’s no power in that main street.

Strike up the Yass Valley Concert Band

“A lot of the businesses are open, so we couldn’t put stalls in front of those shops also. It’s a juggling act of having a good-sized parade and perhaps being too big that it gets out of control.”

Barry also touched on Jamie Duncan and Tracey Beadman’s incredible feat of raising more than $11,000 with their shave to raise money for the SPIN Foundation.

“I take my hats off to Jamie and Tracey. They are two awesome community-minded members who are doing what they did. I think the total is close to $12,000 as we speak, so that’s mind-blowing.

“JB’s meat raffles which run out of the Australian Hotel and host a meat raffle every Friday night, donated $5,000 on the night, which was incredible. It certainly brought Tracey undone. 

“We ran into Tracey about six months ago at Aldi and we were in our SPIN shirts and she wanted to know a bit more information about what the foundation was about and who we helped.

Just prior to the big shave – a surprise donation of an extra $5000

“She got together with Jamie and decided that we would be the charity of their choice. We’ve been working in conjunction with them. There’s been some great support from other business houses in town as well and just from the general public.

“It does a lot for our Foundation as far as purchasing some specialised equipment in either Yass Aged Care or at the Yass Hospital. That’s something we’ll sit down and allocate that money for, plus some to go back to our ongoing and new patients moving forward.”

Barry also wanted to thank the Yass community for their fantastic support of the whole town event.

“I’d especially like to thank Lynette and her team at Yass Council and all the Council workers that came on board to do their little bit that needed to be done on the day to make our job a little bit easier,” he said. 

Santa with Yass High School students, Alex Gomersall, Charlotte McPherson, EmilyWeeks and Caydi Sattler

Daniel and Rowan Kelly carolling inside Memorial Hall added to the Christmas atmosphere

Parade Ponies led by Louise Armour & friend

“Organising the parade itself isn’t too tricky, but putting people on the ground, especially during the middle of the day where most of our members work, we required a lot of assistance from Council.

Good Vibes Choir carolling the crowd before the parade

“We also thank the organisational effort from Council and all the other community members that come on board and joined us in our working group. 

“A big, big thank you to not just the people of Yass but to the Yass Valley itself. We had people from Wee Jasper and Binalong and all kinds of places. It’s not just a Yass event, it’s a Yass Shire event, and that’s how we want to promote it. 

“We thank everyone for coming on and being involved in the parade and making it so spectacular. But also, to the community, there’s not much point putting a parade on if you have 10 people lining the street, so to see that amount of people lining one end of Comur Street to the other was fantastic.

Tim Warren