Controversy leads Coolum's cane toad race to croak

CONTROVERSY and a lack of manpower has caused Coolum's popular Australia Day cane toad race to croak.

Coolum Lions Australia Day co-ordinator Bruce Parkes said the race, which started in the 1990s, had been scrapped as part of the annual celebration.

Instead the Lions Club will be holding a "more manageable and family-friendly" event at Tickle Park on January 26.

"There was a bit of controversy over the last year, it was too much effort for our guys," Mr Parkes said.

Former Lions president Don Knopke had to deal with hopping mad local residents when he named one of the cane toads in last year's race "Sekisui".

Sekisui, an international developer, was not popular in Coolum at the time with its plans to redevelop beachfront at Yaroomba into a billion-dollar high-rise.

Locals Lyn Saxton and Julie Failor thought naming a toad after a developer and then tipping its "impeccable form" as favourite to win was in bad taste.

They weren't alone, with Coolum News receiving letters of complaint about the toad names.

Mr Knopke resigned as Lions president last year and Mr Parkes said the committee organising 2016 events had decided it was time for a new attraction.

Mr Parkes said the enormous workload involved with organising the Australia Day festivities had taken its toll.

The annual parade and fireworks will also be set aside.

"There were a whole range of issues, from government regulations to manpower," Mr Parkes said.

"It was an enormous thing, to get a traffic management plan and the roadworks."

Last year the group of volunteers worked from 4am "late into the night", ensuring the day was a huge success.

"We had guys going down from exhaustion," Mr Parkes said.

"We had over a thousand people there."

However the Lions will still be ensuring this Australia Day is one to remember at Coolum Beach.

"We will start with breakfast in the park from 7am," Mr Parkes said.

"Then there will be a series of children's events, including entertainment.

"The Australia Day Awards will be from midday."

For the first time, Coolum will host its only talent show, Coolum's Got Talent, throughout the day too.

Former Coolum Business and Tourism president Noel Mooney, from North Shore Realty, said it was a shame the cane toads were not going ahead.

"It is sad, but we need more people to put up their hands to help," Mr Mooney said.


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