Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
A much loved and time-honoured tradition which celebrates the beginning of the Jacaranda season, the crowning of the famous Grafton Clocktower was brought forward by several weeks this year at the request of Clarence Valley residents in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. Australia’s Head of State and Britain’s longest serving monarch passed away earlier this month, aged 96.
Shortly before 6am on September 14, the iconic crown was carefully guided into place as a small crowd including Jacaranda Festival Manager Mark Blackadder, Jacaranda Festival President Desan Padayachee, and 2022 Jacaranda Queen Hanna Craig gathered in Prince Street to watch.
Describing the occasion as a beautiful tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Miss Craig said the Jacaranda Festival Committee collaborated with Clarence Valley Council (CVC), AS Sound Solutions, and Wicks & Parker Cranes to allow the annual event to proceed ahead of schedule.
“It was a community suggestion,” she explained.
“The idea was also provided to Chris Gulaptis (Member for Clarence) who approached the Jacaranda Festival Committee to see if it was something we would be interested in doing, and we all got together to make sure the crown was ready to go, and we got it done.
“I think it was a beautiful opportunity to commemorate what the Queen has done for our country.”
Mr Gulaptis agreed.
“I was contacted by a constituent who thought it would be a good way for our community to acknowledge the devotion to service the Queen has shown through her reign, and I thought it was a great idea, and so did the Jacaranda Festival Committee,” he said.
“It shows how respected and loved the Queen was in the Clarence Valley.
“It was a fitting tribute.” The crowning of the Grafton Clocktower was filmed and posted online by the Jacaranda Festival Committee as part of a global tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
“There were many calls from the community for the Grafton Clocktower to be crowned early this year in memory of Queen Elizabeth II, and we all came together to make it happen,” Mr Padayachee said proudly.
“It’s a wonderful way for us to pay our respects while sharing the spirit of the Jacaranda Festival.”
The crown will adorn the Grafton Clocktower until November 9. The Grafton Jacaranda Festival will be held between October 28 and November 6.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 21 September 2022.