WARM weather drew thousands to Christmas celebrations in Sale on Saturday.
Locals lined Raymond St to witness a high standard Christmas parade before taking advantage of market stalls in Brennan Park.
Wellington Shire councillor Darren McCubbin, assisted by his daughters Ella and Marni, was given the difficult task of judging the parade.
“Whatever they (Ella and Marni) think is good, must be good,” Cr McCubbin said.
“Judging was very close.
“Best walking group had to be the dog obedience club.
“I’m not even sure if they are the dog obedience club, but they were walking their dogs and they looked obedient.”
Buchan Towing took out best commercial float, while best float was awarded to Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club Nippers.
In Step Dance School won best entertaining, with St Paul’s Anglican Church also coming into consideration and unlucky to miss out.
Santa proved popular, with a long line of children waiting to get their opportunity to advise him of their Christmas wishes at Brennan Park, while Santa was mobbed by children on arrival to the clocktower mall, enlisting the assistance of his little helpers to distribute lollies.
Face painting and fairy floss also proved popular, as did Gippsland Centre’s colouring-in station and the handball and netball, run by Sale Football Club.
The clocktower mall was a sea of blue, with the Gippsland Times handing out balloons while Gippsland Grammar Band entertained the crowd with Christmas carols.
The celebrations also included the official opening of the new-look clocktower mall.
Deputy premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said the $962,000 redevelopment linked the Raymond St retail shopping strip with Gippsland Centre Sale.
The project, which received $300,000 from the state government, included pavement upgrades, street furniture, wind and sun shelters, alfresco dining areas, an outdoor performance area, public gathering space, landscaping and tree planting, and upgraded lighting to increase security.
Mr Ryan said the project had been a long standing priority for the community, having first been identified in the Sale urban design framework in 2002.
“This project will encourage locals and visitors to shop, dine and conduct business in Sale,” he said.
“It will revive Sale’s commercial precinct and ensure it’s available for the long-term benefit of the local community.
“The alfresco dining area will increase economic activity and also generate new employment opportunities in the local hospitality industry, while the new performance space will enhance social and community interaction and bring more visitors into the CBD.”
Mr Ryan said the redevelopment had also improved accessibility in and around the mall area, ensuring people of all ages and abilities could safely enjoy the new and improved facilities.
Wellington Shire Council provided $662,000 towards the project.
Mayor Scott Rossetti said it was terrific to see the mall finally used for its intended purpose.
He said often people looking to set up business or tourists judged a town on its public space, and if it looked vibrant, it encouraged them to stay.
“Keeping the centre of town vibrant will create jobs; people will shop locally,” he said.
Longford Lions Club organised the Christmas parade and Brennan Park festivities, while the Sale Business and Tourism Association hosted the mall Christmas carnival.