The Gladstone Ports Corporation brought the Easter Bunny out of hibernation for this year’s festival parade.
The Gladstone Ports Corporation brought the Easter Bunny out of hibernation for this year’s festival parade. Mike Richards

Harbour City bursting with colour as festival fever hits

COLOUR exploded across the harbour yesterday as hundreds of people gathered for the Gladstone Harbour Festival street parade.

After overcoming sponsorship hurdles and changes to the State Government road closure requirements, the event was postponed last week because of wet weather.

But any concerns that the popular event may not go ahead were quickly forgotten as the first floats crossed the marina bridge.

Birralee Kindergarten was among the colourful floats, which co-ordinator Jess McKim-Hill said took hours to create.

"The instant we heard colourful carnival, all we could think of was Rio and to get the kids involved we would make them all a set of wings and they can be the birds from the Rio movie," she said.

"They thought it was a really good idea and they are having so much fun."

The parade capped off an action-packed day with 15 teams competing in the NRG Great Raft Race in the morning.

Teams battled it out with an onslaught of water pistols and flour bombs - but it was the Zinc raft that finished first.

Zinc team member Clare Wootton said muscle from the Canoe Point Outriggers Club definitely helped put them in good stead.

"We had a few secret weapons, a few modifications of the raft this year. I don't know if they helped or hindered but all in all, it was a great day out," she said.

With the Boyne Smelters Ltd Herbie raft coming in second, Captain Rex Holmes said: "It was heaps of fun, it's what we're all here for."

The sentiment was shared by all raft racers who were just happy to get out there and have fun.

Jackson Reading was on board the NRG Emergency Response Team raft, which deserted any attempt at crossing the finish line and instead focused on bombing the rafts that went by.

"We had intentions of finishing the race, but it didn't turn out that way," he said.

"We didn't even do a whole lap, we just threw the flour bombs and got everyone with the hose."

A lot of hard work and creativity went into the rafts this year including Clinton State School's rafts which took out the Best Backyard Raft award.

Clinton State School teacher's aide Karen Byron put together the team's Dr Seuss costumes.

"We are thrilled because we put a lot of effort in," she said.

Pride of NRG Raft Race was awarded to the pirate ship, Bechtel QCLNG Calypso Sword, for having the most creative raft.

Calypso Sword pirate Joanna Winters said the event was "absolutely fabulous" and a great chance to work together.

"We had a group of people working hard (on the raft). We did a couple of float tests in the hydro pond at work; so a bit different to our usual activities on site," she said.

The awards were the icing on the cake for some teams, but overall the main focus was participating and making the event as fun as possible.