For clubs such as Tewantin-Noosa RSL and Currumbin RSL, who usually host some of the largest parades and events in their regions, the timing is just too short to enable a quick return to pre-COVID activities.
Currumbin RSL CEO John Bucknell said planning usually started six months’ out for the club’s traditional Anzac Day activities, which included a Dawn Service at Elephant Rock that has attracted thousands of people in the past.
“Anzac Day is on, but it’s different – because to do Anzac Day at the Rock, that’s sort of six months of planning – the biggest years have been around 25,000 people – even if it’s 15,000 that’s a massive crowd to try and deal with – and COVID-plan,” John said.
“At the Rock we’re putting an installation of white poppies and some lighting. At the RSL we will have red poppies for remembrance and at Palm Beach, near the dog park – purple poppies - for the service animals.
“On the day we’ll still be having the service at the RSL and we’ll be live streaming it or picking up a broadcast partner. We’ll have about 1000 people at the club and a luncheon.”
The club is also supporting a new event this year in the form of an 8km Walk 4 Remembrance on April 18 that will start at Gilltrap Park in Coolangatta and finish at Currumbin RSL. The walk has been created by Young Veteran Support Services to raise awareness and funding to support the families of veterans who have lost their lives to suicide. Anyone in the world can join the event virtually too by logging their interest at www.walk4remembrance.com.au
Tewantin-Noosa RSL General Manager Julie McLaws said while her club and the Sub-Branch members had been working on a number of different plans for Anzac Day since the start of the year, the uncertainty would make it unlikely this year’s event would be the same as pre- COVID events.
As at the end of March the club has settled on a Dawn Service at the Tewantin Cenotaph, followed by a cemetery service and an Anzac Day Parade from 9am.
Julie said the COVID rules would still need to be applied in the venue which could limit the numbers able to attend for lunch after the parade.
Further afield, Charleville RSL Memorial Club General Manager Damon Moody said he was expecting to see a bigger than normal crowd at this year’s services in his town.
“It’s usually quite a big event out here – it’s only a small town but we usually get a couple of hundred people to the services,” Damon said.
“Missing out on it last year, I think it’ll be even bigger this year.
“We do a gunfire breakfast and rum and milk at that time of the day, then open again at 10am and we do lunch for 100 or 120 or so – all of the Sub-Branch members and veterans.”
RSL Queensland has welcomed the news that parades will be allowed again this year and released a statement to say it was working with the Sub-Branch network throughout the State to gather information on events in each area and map them on their website at www.rslqld.org as they are confirmed.
The Light Up The Dawn project from last year, where people were encouraged to stand in their driveways at dawn, will be activated again in support of local commemoration activities based on “popular demand from the community”. See www.lightupthedawn.com.au