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NSW harness racing officials say Albury trots is one of the best in the state while Wodonga’s fireworks spectacular had its biggest crowd yet in New Year’s Eve events on the Border.
Harness Racing NSW registrar Denis Declauzel and commercial services manager Peter Carney made a surprise visit to Albury’s harness racing meet last night.
Mr Declauzel, who has been in harness racing for more than 50 years, was nostalgic as he stood among the 4000-strong crowd.
“It brings back memories of the days of old,” he said.
“We haven’t seen this since the days of Harold Park.”
Harold Park Paceway, in Sydney, attracted similar crowds before it was sold three years ago.
Mr Declauzel praised organisers for allowing families to bring in their own picnics and both he and Mr Carney said it was one of the best events in the state.
Geelong’s Rosemary Otto, 49, was visiting her Albury friend Jenny Mooney, 55. The pair sat with family and a picnic.
“It’s a brilliant atmosphere,” Ms Otto said.
There were more happy people over the border in Birallee Park at the second Wodonga Family Fireworks Spectacular.
By 9pm, crowds had swelled to 3500 and people were still walking through the gate.
Families were dancing to the DJ playing ABBA, amusement rides were going non-stop and picnic rugs and chairs were crammed on the oval.
Numbers surpassed last year’s total of 2000 and Wodonga Raiders general manager Greg Dawson felt vindicated.
He was expecting the crowd to surpass 4000 by the time the fireworks started at 10pm.
“It’s do or die this year and we cut our budget right back,” Mr Dawson said.
“It’s lived up to my expectations.”
Crowd numbers were up as organisers scrapped the $10 entry fee.
Wodonga grandmother Sue Hutchins was dancing to the DJ with her family.
She said the event being free made a difference.
“The music’s great, you bring your own food, it’s not unattended and it’s safe,” she said.