In 1933 in Adelaide, South Australia, a local business owner created a Christmas pageant. It featured eight floats and four bands, and was watched by 200,000 people. Other than a short hiatus during World War 2, it has run every year since. 86 years later, 84 floats and bands have completed the pageant last Saturday, on a beautiful sunny day, perfect pageant weather.
This is the second largest parade of this kind in the world, only surpassed by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. There are over two thousand participants, hundreds of thousands lining the roads, and the whole event is broadcast nationally.
Floats are based on Christmas themes, fairy tales, books, films, and local traditions.
We didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, and with a large family, outings were rare. My parents, like all parents on a budget, were keen on cheap (or free) entertainment for the kids, and the pageant certainly met the bill. I remember getting very excited each year, and the event always lived up to expectations. While new floats were always being added, there are many floats that have been around for a long time and become something of a tradition, to be looked out for. There are two floats with horses, Nipper and Nimble, each with a little girl dressed as a fairy on the top. I loved them, and I will admit to being green with envy of the girls who got to ride them!
Another traditional float is Nelly. Nelly is a mechanical elephant, and is in fact the oldest float currently in the pageant, being approximately sixty years old. She’s had a few break downs over the years, but she has always been successfully repaired and returned to service. I am very fond of her, as she is a reminder of the history of our pageant and how long it has been running.
Importantly, the spirit of Christmas is not forgotten, and a Nativity float is present. The last float in the pageant is, of course, Father Christmas.
Many people perform in the pageant each year, and I think that it is the performers who really make the pageant come to life. There are multiple brass bands and pipe and drum bands. There are also many dancing teams performing the three kilometre route. (Can you imagine dancing for three kilometres?) Each float has performers on the float and surrounding it, in appropriate costumes. There are clowns galore, running around and playing with the children in the crowd.
So the pageant is run on the second Saturday in November each year. There are a few Youtube videos around if you’re interested. It’s a special and, in my opinion, rather awesome tradition of my home, so I thought I would share with my readers.