A fundraiser has been launched in an effort to finish off and light of Gympie’s controversial living Christmas tree, which was shelved amid revelations the project was already $20,000 over budget.
A fundraiser has been launched in an effort to finish off and light of Gympie’s controversial living Christmas tree, which was shelved amid revelations the project was already $20,000 over budget.

GoFundMe launched for $85k Gympie Christmas tree

THE dream of a fully decked out Christmas tree in Nelson Reserve is not yet dead, with a Gympie businessman launching a fundraising campaign to keep the sparkle for this year’s holidays.

Mark Grogan has launched a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise the $30,000 needed to pay for the metal frame which is needed to finish the controversial tree off.

He has thrown the first $1000 into the ring, and more than $2100 has already been raised in less than five hours.

Mr Grogan denied the campaign was about promotion.

Mark Grogan started the fundraiser in the hope of giving Gympie its Christmas cheer.
Mark Grogan started the fundraiser in the hope of giving Gympie its Christmas cheer.

“The business isn’t going to get its name on a tree decoration,” Mr Grogan said.

The hope was to simply deliver the finished tree “for the community, on behalf of the businesses of town”.

“If there happens to be any community members that chip in as well that would be great,” he said.

Decorations on the Nelson’s Reserve tree were shelved by Gympie Regional Council CEO Shane Gray after it was revealed the initial $100,000 region-wide decorations budget had already blown out by more than $20,000.

The winning design for the tree requires a metal frame be built to support the lights. The cost will be about $30,000.
The winning design for the tree requires a metal frame be built to support the lights. The cost will be about $30,000.

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Another $27,800 would still be needed to build the frame to hold the lights.

This would make the bill more than $150,000.

Mr Gray apologised to the community and said the council could not afford the extra costs right now.

Yesterday, he said the council will wait on the outcome of Mr Grogan’s campaign.

“It’s not surprising to see our community rallying and working together with the aim of bringing joy to the region, as that’s what makes our community great,” Mr Gray said.

Last year the tree was decorated with bud lighting.
Last year the tree was decorated with bud lighting.

Mr Grogan said his own children’s eyes lit up with joy at the sight of the city’s tree every year, and celebrating the Christmas spirit would be great in a “tough year”.

He understood some might think the $30,000 raised would be better spent on social issues like homelessness or domestic violence.

But he would be “disappointed if there was criticism” of the drive, which was created on the “spur of the moment”.

“The spirit of it is to do something for the community,” Mr Grogan said.

The plan was to raise the money by the end of the month and pass it over to the council.

“If we happen to raise more … the council are able to use that to put off the cost of the rest of the tree or maybe look at using it for an event later in the year,” he said.