Residents of this popular seaside town have been left furious over a “pathetic” and “embarrassing” council-decorated Christmas tree.
One frustrated local took to Facebook to post a lengthy, scathing review about this year’s Christmas tree that was being showcased in the town of Forster on New South Wales, Australia’s mid north coast.
A user called Midcoast Aerial Photography called out the “ugly Mr Squiggle” tree and tagged the local council in the post, so that they would see the complaint.
“This is absolutely pathetic, what an embarrassing effort,” they wrote.
“Not that I expect anything less from our council, but this needs to stop. Keep in mind before reading — the Mr. Squiggle effort took three days to complete.
“For all the money, effort and advertising that is spent in tourism from people like myself and many other dedicated content creators, businesses and organisations in the region bringing people to our beautiful area, there is nothing that screams neglect and lack of interest more than an unthoughtful, rushed, ugly, non-Christmassy, rope light installation on arguably one of the most noticeable trees in the entire Forster-Tuncurry.”
“What kills me more is that in previous years all the feedback that you would have gotten for the exact same thing, hasn’t been learned from, and instead of being rectified or changed with the help of community feedback has been replicated yet again, as if it’s some kind of a winning formula.”
The poster then compared a Christmas tree from another year with the recent one, and asked whether this is the best that the council could create.
“Is that really the best the creative minds at the council can come up with? A bit of rope light dangling out of a tree?” they asked.
“If I didn’t know better I would’ve thought it was Halloween with that scary effort. In previous years, we had the tree next to Beach St. Seafoods with the hula hoops (to represent baubles) was WAY classier – what went wrong?”
“It used to be beautiful sight at night all lit up.”
Other locals agreed with the poster, sharing their disappointment in the Christmas tree.
“It honestly would have been better off not being done at all … it’s a hideous mess,” wrote one.
“What is that? Glow up toilet paper?” another asked.
“Our beautiful paradise deserves a lot more so ugly such a disaster effort,” a local wrote.
“How embarrassing for the town.”
The local council caught wind of the disappointment from locals and posted a response to the matter on its website a day later.
It said its staff were not “professional tree decorators” and pointed out that this “comes at a cost”.
“MidCoast Council is aware of the community comment on social media on the Christmas decorations installed on an iconic tree in Forster,” the statement read.
“Council’s Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell, said that while the lighting might not be appreciated by some in the community even the small amount of decorating comes at a cost.”
“Installing Christmas lights on large trees such as this is a specialist operation that we do not have the budget to deliver.”
“Our staff are not professional tree decorators and we have delivered what was possible with the budget available and in the same way we have in previous years.”
“In May this year the elected Council made a decision to no longer undertake Christmas lighting displays after this year, with the lights to be donated to local business and community groups for use in future years.”
The statement also indicated the council would be leaving the decorating of the town’s Christmas tree to local residents going forward, following the backlash.
“Providing Christmas lighting is not a core service of Council, or something we have expert skills in, hence the decision to allow the community the opportunity to take ownership of the lighting going forward,” it read.”
“We have had conversations with the Wharf Street Traders about this and the opportunities that exist in the future.”
“Some sections of the community appear to be very passionate about the lighting and this will give them the opportunity to be involved in the decisions around it.”
“The cost of the lights, installation and removal on the Forster site are approximately $8000 with Christmas lights across the region costing the Council $25,000. The majority of the costs associated with installing and removing the lights is from crane hire.”
“Council has also supported the installation of timber trees and tree wraps in Wharf Street Forster, which were also installed this week. Disappointingly some have already been stolen.”
“Christmas-themed banners have been installed in the main centres of Taree, Forster and Gloucester and Council also undertakes a store window Christmas display competition.”
MidCoast Council has been contacted for comment.