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Christmas Pageant

Edward Hayward, chairman of John Martin and Co. Ltd. (an Adelaide department store), began the Christmas Pageant tradition in 1933. The state was still recovering from the effects of the Great Depression and Hayward wanted to create an event that would have people smiling again. He conceived a parade of floats based on fairy tales and nursery rhymes along with clowns and marching bands escorting Father Christmas to the department store. The first Christmas Pageant consisted of eight floats, compared to over 50 in recent years, all manned by employees of John Martins. Mr. Hayward was concerned that no-one would show up to see Father Christmas's appearance, so on the morning of the Pageant (Saturday 18 November) he hired a pilot to fly a small plane around Adelaide announcing over a loudspeaker: 'Father Christmas is arriving in Adelaide this morning'.

Generations of South Australian children have been delighted by the annual spectacle and its most popular attractions, including:

  • Nipper and Nimble, the grey and chestnut rocking horses
  • Nellie the mechanical elephant
  • clowns, whose antics both entertain the crowd and ensure the smooth running of the pageant
  • the Pageant Queen, who gracefully presides over the day and officially welcomes Father Christmas to the 'Magic Cave'
  • Father Christmas himself, whose appearance announces the arrival of the festive season in Adelaide.

Since 1996, the Christmas pageant has been owned and organised by the South Australian Government, through the South Australian Tourism Commission.

A long-term pledge of sponsorship from six of the state's credit unions has ensured the continuation of this South Australian icon beyond the life of its originator, John Martin's and in 2007 the pageant celebrated '75 years of magic'.

In 2010 a world record was set for the largest number of singers, singing Christmas carols at one time. More than 9100 singers broke the last record, set by 7514 people in America in 2004.

Christmas Pageant: Christmas stocking
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Christmas Pageant: Elephant
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Christmas Pageant: Father Christmas
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Christmas Pageant: Humpty Dumpty
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Christmas Pageant: King and Queen of Hearts
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Christmas Pageant: Pirate ship
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Christmas Pageant: Ride a cock horse
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Christmas Pageant: Snow White and the seven dwarfs
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The Christmas Pageant book
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Items 1 - 9 of 9


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