Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Editorial: Glowing reports on festival

Rotorua's first GLO Festival is over - so what did we all think?

For the first time in decades, Rotorua hasn't had its Mardi Gras concert based at the Rotorua Soundshell.

A decision was made last year to make the New Year's Eve celebration a much different affair - a more family-friendly one which carried on for three days rather than just New Year's Eve.

The reasons behind the change of plan were a drive to get more people to visit Rotorua during the holiday period.

Destinations around us, including Gisborne, Coromandel and Mount Maunganui, attract big music festivals where young people flock in hordes.

But there are few places around that cater for young families - and Rotorua is trying to tap into this market.

Another big factor was trying to dissuade the ugly element that was starting to hang around the Mardi Gras. I have witnessed this element and it wasn't nice. Groups of young teens coming to the city centre, many already drunk, were hanging around the Mardi Gras.

Unfortunately, parents didn't seem to care. The Mardi Gras had become their babysitter for the night.

Gang members were also attracted to the event, often intimidating families. Fights were known to break out which police had to break up.

I had the pleasure of being involved with the GLO Festival with my musical hat on, singing solo on New Year's Eve and again with my band, Count Me In, on New Year's Day.

From my point of view, the festival was fantastic. The crowd was amazing, the atmosphere was electric and the event was superbly run by the sound crew, Rotorua District Council staff, Monty Morrison and the fantastic MCing skills of Paul Hickey from Classic Hits.

Securing Titanium as the headline act on New Year's Eve was a huge coup and a brilliant move. It meant the crowd which came to watch were exactly who the organisers were after.

The idea of the event was to wind the Party in the Park up by around 9pm (with a ground-level fireworks display) and encourage those aged 18 and over to head to the Street Party on Tutanekai St. The live music continued there until the huge fireworks display at midnight, which could be seen from all over the city. But there has been criticism bandied around by Mardi Gras fans. Some say it was sad there wasn't something for youth to do between 9pm and the big fireworks display at midnight.

Those comments are in stark contrast to people The Daily Post spoke to at the festival who thought it was great for Rotorua. A visitor spoken to by one of our reporters said she had come across the festival by mistake and was so impressed, she planned to stay another night. That sums up what the council is trying to achieve.

Everyone will have their opinion and it's important they express it to the council. GLO Festival organisers are now asking for your feedback. If you can think of ways to make it better, let them know.

The Mardi Gras has done its dash. It is time for parents of young teenagers to start either enjoying New Year's with their children or find a safe environment for them to celebrate.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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