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Community out in force for fun

FUN WITH FRIENDS: Santika and Summer Miller and Zeeta Innis at Friday’s Coolum Carnival at Coolum State School.
FUN WITH FRIENDS: Santika and Summer Miller and Zeeta Innis at Friday’s Coolum Carnival at Coolum State School. Mike Garry

COOLUM Carnival has come and gone and looks set to make between $40,000 to $45,000 for the Coolum State School. Funds from this year's event will go towards putting wireless technology throughout the school. Journalist and father of two PETER GARDINER gives a personal perspective of this great community event.

BRISBANE may have Riverfire but in Coolum it's a cracker of a night that brings the place alive - the Coolum State School Carnival.

It goes off like a twopenny bunger on what may well be the old school equivalent of the carnival - the sadly departed Guy Fawkes Night.

That was a time kids used to wait an eternity for, to let off a year's worth of pocket money...when they just loved being let free to run around the backyard way into the night with their mates.

You could say in these more risk averse days that Cracker Night in Coolum has been replaced with the carnival and the kids tend to burn a hole in their pockets - not with "Pohas", penny bungers or the rapid-fire Tom Thumbs - but Mum's and Dad's disposable incomes.

And the school oval has to be about the biggest backyard in Coolum where the thrills now are to be had on the Super Trouper, or smashing plates, as the family budget is allowed to blow out a little.

But short-term parental bankruptcy is all for a great cause as the school wouldn't have half the resources it has if not for kids just wanting to have fun. I'm told last year's big carnival blast helped bankroll the Prep adventure playground.

And you know the best part about the night? The Coolum community comes together for a night of nights to all go along for the ride.

I arrived to my families' eighth carnival on Friday afternoon, grateful that there was no cracking storm to flood the place with 10cm of water like our first ever amphibious entertainment experience there.

Thanks to Principal Pat Cavanagh and the die-hard teachers, this is one show that always goes on come hell or high water. I sauntered in from work liked hundreds of other Dads, late afternoon to find the place was already rocking to the beat of the school's rock bands.

Pig Brother fever was the new Swine Flu as Deputy Head Ross Naumann was among the multitude who had bought the very punny piggy banks with names like Kerry Porker and Sowcrates, hoping to win the ultimate pig prize.

Supply teacher Rowena Barben pitched in alongside parents and school staffers selling sure-fire winner show bags. Last year she was my daughter Hollie's Year 5 teacher before she left to join Queensland Fire and Rescue to go put out fires. Last year she and I had survived near-hypothermia of the hands serving up "sno-cones" during an all-night consumer blitz.

This year the hot sale item literally were the buckets of chips - cheap as - as my daughter's Year 6 teacher Dane Stanieg was marshalling the volunteer troops around the fryers. What can be lost in the sheer pulse and energy of this night is the incredible effort the teachers and staff put into this amazing show.

Mr Stanieg like most of the staff had taught all day, prepared for a good part of the day and would be lucky if they saw bed before midnight, hours after the happy crowd had dispersed into the night.

He was staying in town, rather than heading home further south on the Coast because he had to be up for a 7am start to the Coolum Surf Schools Surfout to crown the senior surfing champion. And Ms Hewinson and her school netballers had an even tougher gig.

They had to rise and shine long before the sun - someone said 3.30am - to be heading off to Mission Primary Schools State Cup comp up in Toowoomba that day.

It's the sort of above and beyond dedication that Carol Pellinkhof, one of the staff cleaning crew veterans, has seen over 32 Coolum school carnivals.

This night she is collecting money from the stalls going gang busters, not cooking up a barbie to feed a small army...and then later trying to get the barbecue grease out of her hair, like one of her early carnival experiences.

My son Ben, now a Year 8 past pupil, has the bargain of the night - a $1 dollar water gun from the giant jumble sale. It is soon a super soaker as he and other kids play  "lets wet each other silly" as carnival watchdog Mr Price shows some leniency and tells them to settle things down rather than confiscate their "weapons".

Coolum Police's Sen Sgt Hardy Wirth and his friendly fellow peace keepers are not called on to do anything much but mix with the crowd.

The kids walking around covered head to foot in suds are thankfully not victims of Ben's water war games - they've been at the attraction that is a wall-to-wall, walk-in bubble bath of sorts and all good clean fun. So the hours slip away like the thrill-seeking kids on the giant slide, and after a night of novelties like catching real live crays and inflatable horse races, it's time for the big one.

About fifteen minutes of bang for your buck - the free fireworks that is always the amazing pay-off from a night at the carnival.

The one lingering regret may belong to Mr Naumann, who has failed to bring home the bacon. Once again his Pig Brother has been eliminated from the porker prize draw before 5pm.

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