The festival through which a community celebrates a reef.
The festival through which a community celebrates a reef. Andrew Pattinson, VAMPP

Parading for the living Reef

SEA creatures and colourful corals will be coming to life through the Rotary Street Parade in Airlie Beach.

The parade is renowned as one of the Great Barrier Reef Festival's signature events, and the theme this year is The Living Reef - A World Down Under.

Organiser Merewyn Wright said the reasoning behind the theme was twofold.

"It's partly to promote the newly rebranded festival by highlighting the reef and underwater aspects and partly as a nod to the Living Reef on Daydream Island, which has also been recently rejuvenated,” Ms Wright said.

"It's about paying tribute to the world under the sea on the reef and the fact that in a global sense the Great Barrier Reef is in the great land down under and is one of the natural wonders of the world.”

Crowds line the street at a past edition of the festival.
Crowds line the street at a past edition of the festival. Andrew Pattinson, VAMPP

Daydream Island marine biologist Johnny Gaskell said the theme ticked all these boxes.

"Through education and unique experiences, the Living Reef aims to inspire guests to want to protect our oceans and its amazing inhabitants,'' he said.

"We are thrilled that the Great Barrier Reef Festival has chosen to theme its popular Rotary Street Parade in a way that helps spread these messages further.”

Celebrating the Great Barrier Reef.
Celebrating the Great Barrier Reef. Andrew Pattinson, VAMPP

Festival chairwoman Margie Murphy said the theme would no doubt ignite imagination and inspire creativity in entrants' floats.

"The parade is always reef-themed but having that sub theme helps people focus on ideas they may not have thought of and different angles for inspiration,” she said.

"It's great marketing for businesses and a chance for everyone to align with the Whitsundays' largest community festival and celebrate collectively.”

Prizes are awarded for the best business and not-for-profit entries as well as the best entry on the theme, and most unusual and wacky float.

Ms Wright, who is also governor elect of Rotary District 9550, encompassing North Queensland, parts of the Northern Territory and Timor Leste, said Rotary was proud to sponsor the event.

"Rotary clubs do a lot of things that nobody really sees, so for a group that is such an important part of the community this is a great way to visibly give something back,” she said.

Bringing the Reef to the shore.
Bringing the Reef to the shore. Andrew Pattinson, VAMPP

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said the Rotary Street Parade was one of the most vibrant aspects of a key destination event.

"As a visual spectacle it's a real showcase of what the Whitsundays has to offer, and an event that embodies and celebrates community pride,” she said.

The 2019 Great Barrier Reef Festival from August 1-4 is proudly supported by platinum partner Cruise Whitsundays.

The parade takes place on Airlie Beach's main street at 4pm on Saturday, August 3.

It is preceded by the Fraser Ford Revvin' the Reef, Miss Pin-Up Parade and Wilmar Sugar Wearable Art Awards and followed by the Airlie Magic Mile running race.

Registration for all events is at www.greatbarrierreeffestival.com.au.

Registration for the street parade closes on July 29.

For more information follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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