Emergency service personnel have stolen the limelight from international superstar Katy Perry during the singer’s free concert in North East Victoria.
Siblings Dara, Maisie, and Angus Pilli from Corryong fire brigade danced on stage alongside Bright fire brigade captain Brett Michie, and representatives from Forest Fire Management, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, and local councils.
More than 6,000 people cheered the emergency contingent as they first took to the stage, with Katy Perry introducing each person before inviting them to take centre stage for one of her most famous songs, Roar.
For Corryong’s Dara Pilli, it was an extra special moment, celebrating her milestone 21st with Katy Perry singing happy birthday to both the Corryong volunteer and an FFM Vic firefighter.
“A lot of our younger firefighters are here and it’s an awesome way to relax and celebrate the end of the summer and what we’ve all achieved in that time.”
Ms Pilli said it’s been extremely tough for the communities across the north east, not just when the fires tore through the region, but also in the months following.
“We’re still definitely on the road to recovery and we still will be for quite some time, but I think a lot of us are slowly making our way back to what we’re calling the new normal.”
Bright captain Brett Michie said the concert was not only a huge boost for tourism in the Alpine town, but it’s also brought international attention for all communities impacted this summer.
“The fire stopped about 15 kilometres south of Bright, but we got affected in the Buckland Valley and Buffalo River.
“While we were evacuated and affected by the threat of fire, we weren’t directly hit like the towns of Corryong, Cudgewa, Walwa, Mallacoota, Buchan.
“Those towns are really feeling it and they need tourists as well, so this concert is really for everyone.”
Many of those involved in the concert also ensured those feelings of gratitude and support were shared in as many ways as possible.
While 6,000 free tickets were initially offered to local residents and people who had contributed to firefighting efforts, organisers later opened the gates to anyone who hadn’t secured a pass.
And despite her status as an international superstar, Katy Perry ensured she spent some quality time with fire fighters before taking to the stage.
“She thanked us all and couldn’t believe that most of CFA members are volunteers,” said Mr Michie.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the summer and she was very thankful of that.”