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by Helen Holt

South Canterbury Hospice has pulled the pin on this year’s Caroline Bay Rock and Hop.

With New Zealand going into the Red traffic light setting on Sunday night, limiting gatherings to 100 people with vaccine passes or 25 people without, organisers on Tuesday said they had no choice but to cancel the March event.

Hospice general manager Peter O’Neill said it was disappointing but they had no choice.

“Some predictions indicate that the highest number of cases could be exactly when the event was scheduled.

“We were all raring to go, with the limit of 1000 cars expected, 150 stall sites booked, the social events and cruises … everything was organised.

“We were excited also about a new event at Levels Raceway on the Thursday, with cruises for cars around the track.

“While this will have an impact on Hospice South Canterbury’s finances we have always run this event with a dual focus, that being to also bring a fantastic event to South Canterbury.

“The 2021 event was amazing, with $130,000 raised for Hospice, and we were looking to top that this year.”

Mr O’Neill said he felt for the hardworking volunteer committee which had put so much into the event already, as well as the stallholders and local businesses which would now also miss out.

However, the hospice will still run some fundraisers intended for the Rock and Hop event.

“The $10,000 cash raffle would still proceed so if people wished to support us in some way please contact us for a ticket.

“Check the Rock and Hop website or pop into one of our two shops. The raffle alone can raise $35,000.

“We also have a silent auction running for framed Rock and Hop street signs covering the four years of the event plus the cancelled 2020 one. These would look great in someone’s man cave or she shed.

“A significant amount of staff time has gone into organising the event and there will be more required in coming weeks, but already we have started talking about 2023.

“This is just too good an event to let go, and while it is a kick in the guts right now we are not alone.

“We will get through this, and be ready to party next year.

“The community has always got in behind us and it has been rewarding to be able to repay that support,”Mr O’Neill said.

February’s Seaside Festival will go ahead, despite Covid-19 restrictions, but will be reduced in length.

The festival will run from February 4-7 rather than being a two-week event.

Event manager Simon Carter said they were keen for the festival to go ahead.

“We’re delighted that we’re able to do this.

“It’s always in the back of your mind as an event organiser in this environment that we could suddenly go into red.

“We were lucky to have the support from Venture Timaru.”

Vaccine passes will be required at all activities and each will be limited to 100.

Events will include a kite expo, outdoor movies, “Learn to Play Guitar” and an inflatable obstacle course.

The movies and guitar lessons will require booking ahead.

Mr Carter said Covid-19 restrictions were always considered when it came to event planning.

“We looked at a number of things. It would be easier to say no and cancel the festival, but we’ve had so much support in the last fortnight.

“It seems like Omicron will be in our lives for a while. We should put on the festival early on while we can.”

Geraldine’s Summer Fete has been postponed for the second time due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The event was due to happen on February 24, but organisers decided on Monday to postpone the event until November.

Organiser Deanna Mackenzie said it was disappointing.

“We couldn’t have run it with the 100-person limit, but it’s also about the safety of the community.”