FOR more than 30 years the Wingham's Christmas Carnival has brought colour and festive cheer to the centre of Wingham. But in more recent years there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour in town on the night, mostly after the carnival has finished at 9.30pm.
Wingham Chamber of Commerce president Donna Carrier said it is a sad fact that with increased liability claims and insurance costs, the behaviour of a minority few has forced the chamber to make changes to their carnival program. "We have made the tough decision to cancel all carnival rides aimed at the over 12 year olds," said Donna. "This year we will only be providing rides for younger children in an effort to stop trouble in our town and bring back the true family atmosphere of our community carnival."
The decision was only made recently as pressure built for the chamber to "do something" about the behaviour of some of the youth. Donna said it has put the chamber in an awkward situation and chamber does not want to deter teenagers from coming to the carnival with their families and enjoying their time. The chamber has in fact been divided on the issue and the decision to change the facilities now weighs heavily on the members. It is a gamble they hope will pay off with increased numbers of families attending and a gentler, more traditional atmosphere restored.
The chamber hopes the change will pave the way for a new style carnival and ideas have already been put forward for choirs and carols next year. Police will be on patrol for the carnival ensuring that behaviour is contained and alcohol is not consumed in alcohol free zones.