The flame has flickered out on Ballarat's popular Carols by Candlelight service, which has been cancelled after almost 50 years largely because of a lack of volunteer support.
With hundreds of hours of organisation and preparation required for the annual Christmas singalong, the work had fallen to just a handful of volunteers from the churches of Ballarat.
Shayne Westblade from Kardinia Church said it was a hard decision, but the organising committee felt it had little choice.
It has been an event that has brought local families together through music at such a wonderful time of the year for over 40 years.Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh
The committee's decision to cancel the Christmas tradition was posted to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, citing lack of support through resources and finances.
"The Ballarat Carols Event has been part of the Ballarat Community for the past 40 years, it will be sadly missed. We would like to thank all Churches, Community Groups, Service providers and the people of Ballarat for their support over the years, it has been an honour to serve the community with this gift at Christmas," the committee said in their statement.
"It is with sadness that we inform the Ballarat Community that the Ballarat Carols for 2019 will not be proceeding. An event of this size requires considerable amount of support through resources and finances which despite our best efforts have not been forthcoming."
Mr Westblade said social media anger in the hours after the initial announcement had been misplaced.
"People are pointing the finger at council but it's not a result of council funding, it's simply resourcing," Mr Westblade said.
Unless it's taken up by some other organisation it's going to deprive the Ballarat community of carols by candlelight coming up to Christmas.3BA Christmas Appeal founder Peter Caligari
"It was a very hard decision, a hard conversation and when the network got together to discuss this direction ... we had people who had been involved for up to 10 years.
"When you are the last man standing in the room, when no one else comes in to the room ... our resources are very slim."
Ballarat Carols has been running for 48 years, having started life in a Ballarat backyard before spending several decades known as the Eureka Carols, held in Eureka Gardens, before moving to the North Gardens and finally, Mars Stadium.
The move to Mars Stadium last year was to allow the event to grow and reduce infrastructure costs.
The previous permit to hold the event at North Gardens had capped the audience at 5000 people.
City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said she was saddened to hear of the cancellation of the 2019 Carols by Candlelight, and thanked the committee for their work.
Council had provided $52,875 of funding toward the carols concert over the past seven years, and last year helped move the event to Mars Stadium to help remove event infrastructure costs.
"It has been an event that has brought local families together through music at such a wonderful time of the year for over 40 years," Cr McIntosh said.
"We have been contacted by the committee who have sadly come to the decision it is no longer possible for them to stage the event due mainly to a lack of the large amount of resources it involves."
Cr McIntosh said council would meet with Carols by Candlelight organisers to discuss what support it can provide to ensure the Christmas event can hopefully continue in to the future.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched within hours of the event's cancellation, but Mr Westblade said it was unnecessary.
"It's not about the money," he said.
Until 2000 there were two separate Carols by Candlelight events in Ballarat - one held by a network of local churches and one by 3BA - but the two services merged and the 3BA Christmas Appeal became a beneficiary of the combined carols service.
3BA Christmas Appeal founder Peter Caligari said the loss of the carols would have an impact on the appeal and the agencies and people it supports.
"The sad part about it is it will be a loss to the Ballarat community at Christmas and it will also represent some monetary loss to the appeal."
Mr Caligari said the already-popular Buninyong Carols by Candlelight service, which also supports the 3BA Christmas Appeal, would most likely grow as a result of the lack of a similar concert in Ballarat.
"Unless it's taken up by some other organisation it's going to deprive the Ballarat community of carols by candlelight coming up to Christmas," he said.
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