Sunday, 19th November 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"It's beginning to feel at lot like Christmas!"

If truth be told, that Christmas feeling seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. In fact, it appears to start right after Halloween. Once all the reduced in price "Trick or treat" paraphernalia, such as vampire costumes, werewolf masks, gory face paint, sickly marshmallow sweets and monkey nuts are gone, they're gone.

Tinsel, baubles and Christmas trees, miraculously come out as if by magic! Even the BIG man from the North, invites us to make a list, before "Black Friday" gets us all excited whilst maxing out our credit cards. Make no bones about it, we succumb to commercialisation all too easily. Even Santa's hard working wee elves are not immune to modern day pressures.

We can see evidence of Waterford making its annual Christmas statement, with the return of Winterval and Santa switching on the lights, on Friday 17th November. This will take place in the heart of the City Centre supported live on air by WLR FM. All this exciting action will take place between John Robert's Square and The Apple Market.

You may also have noticed that preparations are well under way, ready for the official Winterval Festival launch. A huge vintage Ferris wheel has located itself on The Quay, opposite Shaw's Department Store. You may just have seen the structure being erected last weekend. This is apparently, the largest mobile in Ireland, offering passengers a unique perspective of the City and unparalleled views across the River Suir. Just remember to wrap up and maybe bring a warm blanket when going on this, as you wouldn't wish to have a cold for Christmas day.

Winterval's very successful ice rink, has of course moved to a bigger, better, new location - the Waterside Car Park, previously the old gas works. This will allow not one but two ice rinks to be operated. There will be the usual large rink and a smaller rink, to encourage the wee ones to take up ice skating. This makes a lot of sense. Previously, the mix of giddy teenagers trying to impress one another, caused many a collision and safety concerns for the smaller members of our community.

The move has caused some consternation, stoked of course by social media. One or two Facebook posts, indicating that the rink was NOT returning! In reality this has given the new operators lots of free publicity, creating a frisson of excitement. Will the new rink deliver a little bit extra this year?

The Apple Market, Waterford's newest outdoor venue, continues to programme fresh, innovative exciting events. There will be a Christmas village located here, lots of live music and maybe even the opportunity to have an interactive snowball fight! With so much going on, I do wonder, if these Christmassy distractions, will encourage those who represent us, to have some down time? After all, our Santa list for Waterford Inc. is not that big, is it? Well yes, it is!

The Cath Lab resolution must be at the top of Waterford's long standing Christmas wish list. However, the recently published "Terms of reference", appear, "Surprise, surprise", to be anti-Waterford. Why, one wonders, do we have to start every process quite literally on the back foot! Surely, someone, given the record of reports for Waterford, had to be influencing the terms of reference, before they were published and NOT after.

University status for WIT, has been kicked so far down the road, that yet another generation of secondary level school leavers are missing out and having to travel many kilometres to go to a third level university. Waterford Airport has had no commercial flights for nearly 20 months and Government has been very quiet on the funding for our North Quays. This wish list, despite numerous opportunities, would have allowed Ireland's Three Wise Men (Varadkar, Donohoe and Coveney) to be the bearers of gifts, our Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

There is much to look forward locally this festive season. Waterford will no doubt be supported regional by many a Christmas shopper and visitor.

I hope that these Dublin centric elves, don't forget us and remember to deliver the odd present or two, to kick start our 2018.

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