The Coogee Carols, a first-person account by Chloe Dallimore the Coogee local, President of the MEAA and musical theatre performer.
“When you find paradise, why would you leave?”
This is what I was told by a local Coogee octogenarian when I first moved to Sydney in 1996.
I smiled and nodded as he told me his story of arriving in Coogee as a 16 year old apprentice, and of his love for this seaside “village” as he called it. I’ve never forgotten his tale, and as I continue to clock up the 20+ years in my now beloved Coogee, I find myself with my own stories to regale.
And as we career headlong into the ‘silly season’, I cross my fingers that November will bring the hoped-for email with the subject line, “Coogee Carols”.
But I am jumping ahead of myself…
In 1996, the local highlight to Christmas was Santa on the back of a garbage truck giving out lollies to the local young-fry.
But there was trouble in paradise.
Santa couldn’t get to every street in the Randwick Council constituency. Santa wasn’t living up to his promise of visiting every child who’d been good.
Local lass, Michelle Guthrie, whom most of us now know as a superstar theatre Producer for The Hayes Theatre Co, had a solution. In 2002 she proposed that she could stage a local carols event on the same budget as Santa on his Garbage Truck. She gathered her entertainment friends and the first Coogee Carols was born. It was a HIT!
Fast-forward to 2019, and it is now so high-tech and well-regarded that locals nab their favourite spot on the grass, early in the morning. Where else in the world can one listen to carols, sung by local stars of stage and screen, whilst the waves lap only metres away? And then there’s Santa arriving over the water in the Westpac surf rescue helicopter!
Watching the sunset as the kids and adults singalong and relax into the festive mood, seeing the candles light up at dusk, and to feel the love and togetherness of my little community, is the genuine marker of Christmas for me. Christmas can be a really challenging time for many…it is for me…I lost my Dad when I was young, and Christmas was never the same. But it’s at Coogee Carols that I can reconnect with the joy of song, love and family, whatever that may be for each of us.
And the very best thing about the Coogee Carols for me? Backstage! Where the local thespians catch up on the last 12 months and indulge in stories of our lives and friendships, which will nourish us for the next 12 months.
For me, Coogee Carols is everything Christmas should be.
Now what to wear on Dec 22, the rule is no sequins but beachside chic. I hope to see you there.