Early feedback for new-look whale event mostly postitive
EARLY feedback on the new-look Hervey Bay Whale Festival Illumination Parade and Whale Aid Concert has been largely positive.
Leading in to Saturday night's event, many residents were angry about Fraser Coast Opportunities' elimination of floats from the lantern parade and its relocation from the Esplanade.
But Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell estimated thousands of people turned up to enjoy a night of music and celebration on the grassy area next to the cultural centre in Pialba.
"I'm not always good at guessing crowds but if there wasn't 3000 to 5000 people there - it was people from all over," he said but other estimates put the crowd about 2000.
"I thought it was absolutely brilliant - it was an outstanding success - I just think it'll get bigger and better."
Criticism was aimed at FCO for reducing the illumination parade to a 10 minute walk but Cr O'Connell said the feedback he had received outweighed the concerns.
"I think people needed to see it and they needed to experience it," he said.
"You suggest change and that can create some unease.
"Most people said we want to go for a celebration - they were beyond the concept of change."
Zumba Club Fraser Coast member Cheryl Virgo has been involved in the whale festival since she moved to Hervey Bay in 2006.
On Saturday night she joined the crowd for their walk from Freedom Park to the Discovery Sphere.
Although Ms Virgo said she enjoyed the event, she acknowledged there was room for improvement.
"I think the walk was a little disappointing compared to previous years," she said.
"It was a bit confusing where we were going."
"Starting at Freedom Park felt a bit like an Anzac celebration."
Ms Virgo said there were things like the concert she enjoyed - but she would prefer a better illumination parade.
"I think they could combine elements of both events," she said.
"If it was a toss up of having that or nothing at all - I'd go back."
Cr O'Connell heaped praise on FCO for establishing the future of the event.
"I think they've not only succeeded but they've set up a model that's absolutely excelling," he said.
"You'll always take on improvements and suggestions but boy, I think we laid down a good model for celebrating an iconic event."
Blue Dolphin Whale Watching owner Peter Lynch agreed.
"It was well thought out and the bands were great," he said.
"Overall I was very happy with the layout, the musical line-up was fantastic and the kids enjoyed the lantern parade."
Comment below to tell us what you thought of the event.