GALLERY: Soul Street sees in the New Year
SOUL Street organisers have Byron's family friendly New Year's Eve event as a cracker.
The rain held off, there was food ad music as thousands of people gathered in Jonson Street in Byron Bay to send off 2017 and welcome in the New Year.
The crowd, estimated to be more than 10,000 people danced, sang and watched the cabaret, circus acts and magicians.
Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, said since the New Year's Eve Safety Committee convened a few years back to create something special for the local community, closing off Jonson Street, renaming it Soul Street and encouraging families and people of all ages to step out had been a great result for the community.
"People had a fantastic time in Byron Bay this year and what they loved most was the fact that there were lots of children and their parents around and that created an atmosphere where anti-social behaviour was not acceptable,” Mayor Richardson said.
Paul Spooner, Manager of the Byron Community Centre, which organised Soul Street, said the atmosphere was amazing.
"It was a wonderful night and everyone was very relaxed and there were lots of people of all ages which was a great sign that it was not only a family-friendly event, but it was safe for everyone,” Mr Spooner said.
"The people I have been speaking to said the night surpassed their expectations and this is a major coup for the community who don't want Byron Bay to be seen as a New Year's Eve destination where people get drunk and behave badly,” he said.
Byron Bay police officers said the presence of more families and children had made a big difference to New Year celebrations in recent years with no major issues reported.
"Aside from a few minor incidents New Year's Eve was a great night for everyone, including my staff and long may this be the case in Byron Bay,” Acting Commander of the Tweed Byron Local Area Command, Mick Dempsey said.
"Officers spent a lot of time walking around being visible and I think they enjoyed the Soul Street event as much as everyone else,” he said.
When everyone was going to bed, Council staff and contractors clocked on at 3:30am and started cleaning up.
"On behalf of the community I thank everyone involved in the organisation of the New Year's Eve event, especially those people who worked through the day setting up and then cleaning up the streets, parks and toilets on 1 January,” Mayor Richardson said.
Around 1,000 people also attended the First Sun event at the Cape Byron Lighthouse at 5am on New Year's Day where they celebrated the coming of 2018 with yoga and meditation.
"How awesome is our First Sun dawn event,” Mayor Richardson said.
"The numbers keep growing as more and more love this special event created by a special community,” he said.
"We finished the morning with some dancing around the Lighthouse and it was a beautiful start to what everyone hopes will be a fantastic year,” Mr Spooner said.