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Lift off for Arklow Seabreeze Festival after ‘trojan work’ from shrinking volunteer pool

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Mini Seabreeze Princess Arklow. Grace and Lily Higgins

Mini Seabreeze Princess Arklow. Grace and Lily Higgins

Mini Seabreeze Princess Arklow. Grace and Lily Higgins

wicklowpeople

SEABREEZE Festival volunteers are working double shifts to put the finishing touches to the big comeback of Arklow’s biggest weekend of the summer.

The long-awaited return of Arklow’s Seabreeze Festival takes place this weekend from Friday July 15 to Sunday July 17 and has been met with many challenges that the hard-working festival committee has traversed in order to bring the Seabreeze back on the summer calendar for Arklow and beyond.

With mere days remaining before Seabreeze returns, the committee is still looking for people to lend a hand with the final preparations before the festival begins next Friday. Noeleen Hughes, who has worked tirelessly during the past few months with the festival committee, detailed exactly what is still to be done and what the committee is doing with the time they have left.

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“We still need a few more volunteers, we have a good few of them working double shifts at the moment,” explained Noeleen.

With the return of Seabreeze after a three-year absence due to lockdowns, the committee has felt the stress more than any year before.

With a post-pandemic economy having little or no room for businesses to donate to the festival, the committee had to become more creative with their fundraising.

“It has been very stressful this time around with businesses closed from covid. We usually fund the festival with donations from local businesses but of course people don’t have it to give this year. It is a struggle; we have bingo nights coming up before and after the festival to help raise our funds.” said Noeleen.

The committee has been working overtime to provide a weekend of activity and family fun, but with the event fast approaching Noeleen and the team have had to step it up another notch to make sure the event goes smoothly.

“We meet every second day at around seven or eight in the evening and we’d be there for maybe two or three hours. We were notified that we could not have our main stage at the top of the street, so we had to reshuffle everything and start from scratch a week and a half ago,” said Noeleen.

The festival is expected to attract just over twenty thousand people over the weekend, with a firework display to cap off the long-awaited return. Noeleen and the committee would like to thank those who have sponsored and donated to the festival as well as the people of Arklow who look forward to the weekend ahead.

“We have had a lot of positive feedback from people both in Arklow and outside the town who can’t wait to come,” said Noeleen.

One local with a long association with the event is Councillor Tommy Annesley.

He said that the event is ‘badly needed’ for businesses in the town.

“It’s a massive economic benefit to Arklow,” he said. “It brings a lot of tourists into the town and is badly needed for the local trade, B&Bs, bars and restaurants, and hotels.”

He added: “Whatever chance you had of getting a bedroom in the town last week, you’ve no chance this week. It brings visitors in and families homes, they all plan their trips back to coincide with it because there’s so much to do.”

Already the Swinging Pubs competition has been creating an atmosphere in the town, with pubs across Arklow hosting the heats of the competition before tomorrow night’s final at the The Bridge Hotel.

Before that, the Bridgewater Shopping Centre hosted the Mini Princess and Seabreeze Princess Competitions in their mall.

On Friday though the real action begins, and Councillor Miriam Murphy is looking for ward to it.

“It’s fabulous and I know there’s a very small committee who have done trojan work, which will benefit new and old to get together,” she said. “It’s just brilliant. Fair dues to them.”

Cllr Murphy has already booked her spot to see The Kilkenny’s on Saturday night at the Main Stage and ahead of the night was feeling nostalgic about some of her first Seabreeze visits.

“The Seabreeze started off with John Collins, a business man who then owned a chipper,” she remembers. “It wasnt called the Seabreeze at the time, but he brought marching bands to the town. There were thousands at it.”

To keep up to date with all the action coming Arklow’s way this weekend head to the Seabreeze Festival’s Facebook page.


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