Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
While she stands proudly amongst the blossoming purple trees in Grafton’s See Park, the cost of keeping Jacaranda Jill safe from vandals while on public display has led to the resignation of Jacaranda Festival President Nicholas Buckler.
Mr Buckler confirmed his resignation via email late last week, citing issues regarding finances spent on 24-hour security for the 6m tall kewpie doll.
Jacaranda Jill has recently undergone significant restoration after she was set alight by vandals while on display in Market Square during the 2019 Jacaranda Festival.
Describing the resignation of Mr Buckler as a shock, financial member Jeff Smith confirmed the outgoing president approached him for advice following his decision.
“I advised him to put a letter or an email together to present his side of the story,” Mr Smith said, adding Mr Buckler had expressed concerns regarding the cost of security for Jacaranda Jill.
“His resignation came as a shock.
“The Jacaranda Festival is community funded, and we can cover the cost.”
New President of the Jacaranda Festival Committee Desan Padayachee, credited Mr Buckler as having been a great asset and described him as someone who has worked very hard for many years to help get the Jacaranda Festival to where it is today.
“His decision to step down as President is unfortunate, however we respect that this is his choice and wish him well,” he said.
“The festival is now in a stronger position than it has ever been, both in terms of its status and finances, and while issues around Covid-19 over the past two years and the recent moving of dates this year will no doubt affect our bottom line, we will be well placed to deliver an even better event in 2022.”
After featuring as part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Jacaranda Jill has become a popular attraction during the annual Jacaranda Festival.
She is currently attracting plenty of admiring visitors in See Park.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that she has been fixed up and now she’s back on public display,” said Frankie Gharma, who drove from Ballina to see the giant kewpie doll earlier this week.
“I think it’s a credit to the Jacaranda Festival Committee for their efforts in getting her set up again.
“It’s a great attraction to have as part of the festival, especially for a lot of kids.
“I’m glad I made the journey to come and see her this year because I wasn’t able to see her in 2019.”
Jacaranda Jill will be on display in See Park until November 7.
Mr Buckler was also approached for comment.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 3 November 2021.