An Aussie council's attempt to bring some festive cheer has been mocked by locals after a giant Christmas tree failed to hit the mark.
Since its grand reveal on Friday, the tall festive tree has been the subject of ridicule both on and offline, forcing the Port Macquarie-Hastings council on the NSW Mid North Coast to backflip on the idea.
Dozens of locals gathered around the tree during the annual Christmas Fair on Friday, gearing up to see the lights switch on for the first time of the season. But when they did, residents were shocked by what they saw and it was a silent night indeed for attendees.
Photos and videos shared online show a poorly decorated pine tree with deflated baubles and missing lights. The lights that were illuminated were hung haphazardly, leaving people underwhelmed.
One local resident told Yahoo News Australia "there was a second of cheers and a few claps" when the lights first came on, but "gasps and a fair few laughs" quickly followed and some murmurs among the crowd.
"Personally, I thought 'what the heck' and then looked at my partner and burst out laughing," the Port Macquarie resident said, admitting the tree "had seen better days".
'Bad weather' to blame for disastrous Christmas tree
According to the mayor, "bad weather" was to blame for the Christmas tree blunder, and on Tuesday, it was announced the tree would be replaced. In previous years, a fake tree has been on display, but this year the council hoped to "deliver something a little different" with a natural pine tree instead.
"At the all-important lighting ceremony on Friday, we all discovered at the same time that a number of lights had moved or failed to turn on as result of the bad weather, and we were sad to see our inflatable baubles had deflated — much like our spirits when the tree was lit," Mayor Peta Pinson said in a statement on Monday
Tree savagely mocked online
Social media users didn't hold back in the days that followed and pictures of the tree went viral — but for all the wrong reasons. Some said it was "embarrassing" for the town, while others deemed it "hilarious". One person said "this hurts my soul" and it was a "disaster". Many pointed out the council had "one job" to do but "failed".
One man born and raised in the town, but now residing in Sydney, shared a video of the grand reveal on Twitter. "Port Macquarie's (very ordinary) Christmas tree has been lit," he mocked. He said it will "haunt me forever" and noted it's being "justifiably rinsed" on social media, telling Yahoo"there’s a treasure trove of comments" from locals.
Council's amusing response to backlash
Following the widespread backlash, the council also joined in on the fun and jokingly blamed too much "eggnog" for the disastrous decorations.
"With everything our community has been through recently, we know everyone appreciates a good laugh! We are glad our very sad Christmas tree could provide that for everyone," council wrote in a humorous post on Facebook. "Our poor tree does look like it was decorated by Santa after he's whizzed around the world and had too many eggnogs. However, it began with the best of intentions."
Fight to keep existing tree
Council workers on Tuesday were erecting a much smaller fake tree in the shadows of the large pine which seems to have been relieved of its Christmas duties. Photos shared online show contractors removing the decorations from the large pine tree. But some locals said the community should have stuck with the "sad" larger tree.
"I think they just should have left it. It was hilarious and they should have just run with it," one told Yahoo. Others agreed and said it's a "waste of money" and resources to replace it.
"What a waste of money. We could have all just laughed at it and enjoyed the mess it was and tried better next year," one said.
"I am personally disappointed with the tree being replaced it was a gentle reminder that nothing is perfect, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What example are we setting for the kids that you must succumb to peer pressure and change yourself, absolutely disgraceful," said another.
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