THE STORY

Father christmas arrives at the magic cave 1933

1933 - The Beginning

It is the time of the Great Depression. On November 18th the first Christmas Pageant created by Sir Edward Hayward (Mr Bill) parades through the streets of Adelaide -approx 8 floats, 4 bands and 200,000 spectators turn out to witness something they had never seen before. The Christmas parade lasted approximately 40 minutes.  All participants were staff from John Martin's, Adelaide’s largest family retail store. The first pageant ran from Angas Street to John Martin's Rundle Street. Early costumes were made of crepe paper.  
Father christmas arrives by biplane

1933 - Father Christmas Arrives By Biplane

Sir Edward was worried that no-one would turn up and so to ensure an audience he had a small aircraft fly low over Adelaide suburbs with a loud speaker to announce the event. “Father Christmas is arriving in Adelaide this morning,”' said the man dressed in red from the little plane. This caused traffic jams as people came flocking into Adelaide for what was at the time a unique event. The crowds did not know how to behave, whether to walk along with the floats or to stand and watch. Nearly everyone crammed into Rundle Street to see Father Christmas delivered to the Magic Cave through the "Children's Christmas Parade”.
Rundle street 1933

1933 - The first pageant

The first pageant started at 11.00a.m. when Sir Edward Hayward blew a whistle. He continued to blow the whistle every year until his retirement in 1980.
Huge crowds in 1933

1933 - The Pageant’s First Director

John Martin's staff member Sydney Jones is appointed the first Pageant Director.
Nipper 1933.

1933 - Nipper and Nimble

Nipper and Nimble, took part in the first pageant and have been in every pageant since then.
King cole 1930s

1934 - An Annual Event

On the strength of the success experienced by the first parade, the pageant was again produced and has become an annual event for the people of South Australia.
Christmas elves 1935

1935 - An Australian story

Australian stories & icons are first acknowledged in the pageant programme.
First inclusion of a Lord Mayor's Christmas appeal float to raise money & donations for underprivileged children.
Queen of hearts

1936 - South Australia centenary

Crowds watch the Queen of Hearts float pass by.
Ali baba and the forty thieves

1937 - Ali baba and the forty thieves

Ali baba and the forty thieves in 1937.
South pole penguins 1938

1938 - South pole penguins

It was decided that new floats and sets were to be added each year.
White dove globe victory parade

1941 - No pageant during world war two

The Christmas pageant was not held from 1941 to 1944 due to World War II.
Victory pageant start

1945 - Victory pageant

The Christmas Pageant resumed with the Victory Christmas pageant-celebrating the end of World War II. The pageant was broadcast by radio for the first time and this continued until 1959.
Father christmas float 1946

1946 - A bird’s eye view

The Lord Mayor initiates a party for 800 orphans at the Adelaide Town Hall. These children are treated to a bird's eye view of the Pageant, a Christmas party and a visit by Father Christmas. This became an annual event.
Elephant 1948

1948 - The first elephant float

An elephant float appears in the pageant for the first time, well before the famous Nellie.
Cinderella 1949

1949 - The first pageant queen

The Queen of Hearts float is designed and a Queen is selected from staff to represent John Martin's store. Arguably the first pageant queen.
Nellie 1951

1950 - Introducing Nellie

In August 1950, Mr F. Stuart of Thaxted, England invented the first mechanical elephant. Originally named Mary, she made her public debut at a famous seaside resort giving rides to hundreds of children. Sir Edward Hayward purchased Mary for 1500 pounds and brought her to South Australia. Soon after her arrival in Adelaide Mary was affectionately renamed Nellie. Nellie's first pageant was in the same year. She has over 9000 moving parts and is powered by a 1940's Ford prefect engine. And the exhaust pipe? What else are elephant trunks for?
Bell girls 1950s

1953 - Bell girls

Walking sets have always been a popular part of the parade.
Ostriches 1950s

1955 - Ostriches

A flock of ostriches pass by.
Piggy piggy float 1957

1957 - Piggy piggy float

The Piggy Piggy float of 1957.
Robert-menzies-and-sir-edward

1961 - The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies and his wife Dame Pattie Menzies, attend the pageant: the only serving Prime Minister to date to witness the pageant first hand.
Pageant queen 1961

1962 - The pageant queen

The pageant queen of 1962.
Clowns 1964.

1964 - Here come the clowns

Clowns have always been an important part of the pageant, including bob-up clowns.
Rehearsals on john martins

1968 - Rehearsals

Rehearsals on John Martin's car park roof top.
Black and white minstrels

1971 - All that jazz

A Jazz Band first plays in the pageant. Note political correctness was not a part of the social conscience as it is today.
Head of the pageant 1972

1972 - Still growing

In 1972 the pageant consisted of 1358 personnel, 48 sets and floats and 20 bands.
Slurp the sea lion 1979.

1979 - Slurp the sea lion

Slurp the sea lion graciously passes an admiring crowd.
Sms buffalo 1986

1986 - South Australia’s 150th Jubilee

To celebrate South Australia's 150th jubilee new floats in the pageant included HMS Buffalo, Proclamation Tree and Bound for South Australia.
Pageant queen 1968

1996 - Credit Union Christmas Pageant

The pageant is now known as the Credit Union Christmas Pageant. It is  owned, managed and produced by Australian Major Events (later to become Events South Australia) a division of the  South Australian Tourism Commission. The naming rights sponsors are six leading South Australian credit unions; Savings & Loans, Australian Central, Community CPS Australia, Police, Powerstate and Satisfac credit unions with additional assistance from the Adelaide City Council, David Jones and the many volunteers.
The credit unions maintain the pageant queen tradition and use her and the princesses to spread Christmas cheer to country areas.
Head of pageant 2003

2003 - New pageant director

Brian Gilbertson directs his first pageant as the fifth pageant director. The first black and white float is introduced. The first female artist to create a float is appointed.
Christmas pudding 1933

2003 - Ringing in the Pageant celebrated the old horse drawn floats

Pageant director, Brian Gilbertson, records the bell ringing from 4 Adelaide cathedral and church bell towers for the music on Ringing in the Pageant. This float is horse drawn to celebrate earlier pageants when all floats were drawn by horse.
The Monster Family introduced. The family consists of Zorg and Zilma and their growing children Zabella and Baxter.
 
75 tap dancers 2007

2007 - Hats off to 75 Years of Magic

Celebrating 75th year of the pageant.

New float: Hats off to 75 years of Magic (75 tap dancers in top hat and tails lead the pageant).
75th Anniversary Diamond Ball takes place at the Adelaide Convention Centre to raise money for charity.

Lee Lennan releases her book The Legendary Magic Cave and Christmas Pageant

Oog joins the Monster Family.

The Cup Cake Christmas float is designed by St Johns Grammar School Belair. Their design wins first place in 2007 Credit Union Christmas Pageant School Design-A-Float competition.

Starting the wave 2008

2008 - We're making waves in 2008

1st attempt at a Guinness World Record for the largest Mexican Wave.
Rodney the red biplane 2009

2009 - Families sharing memories

2nd attempt at a Guinness World Record for the largest Mexican Wave.

This was one of the hottest pageants in pageant history following a 6 day heat wave over 40 degrees. By the time Father Christmas reached North Terrace at 11.14am the temperature was 35.1 degrees.

Rodney the red bi-plane mini float designed by students at the Owen School is first introduced to the pageant. Also new were Robot Family Christmas, Grandpa's Christmas Workshop, Christmas Stocking and a Wang Wang & Funi float helping celebrate the arrival of the panda's to South Australia.
Possum magic 2010

2010 - Together we can make magic

Celebrating 15 years of credit union's pageant naming rights sponsorship thus bringing the true meaning of community to the city streets.

A successful attempt at the Guinness World record for the Largest Group of Carol Singers.

Hush and Grandma Poss join the pageant family celebrating Australia's best known and most loved children's book Possum Magic. Author Mem Fox accompanied the float in the Austin 7. Other new floats included Trumpeting in 2010, Christmas Around the World, Mother Goose's Christmas Table, Christmas Jazz in the Park and Christmas Beat.
Celebrate the clown within 2011

2011 - Celebrate the clown within

The Credit Unions commit to sponsor the pageant for a further 5 years. This will take the sponsorship to 20 years, unheralded and setting an Australian benchmark. 

Eleven year old Sharni Tansell won the 2011 Credit Union Christmas Pageant Mini Float competition with her Naughty or Nice Meter. Other new floats included Penguins 'R' Koool, Hansel & Gretel, Forest Fantasy, Fergus the North Pole Fire Engine and Love Love Christmas.
Timeline Image

2012 - The drumming candles

To celebrate the 80th year of the Credit Union Christmas Pageant a Pageant Trail was held in the cultural precinct of North Terrace. A souvenir passport gave over 25,000 adults and children access to a host of Pageant wonders in and around the Art Gallery of South Australia, the State Library of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, Royal South Australian Society of Arts Gallery and the Migration Museum. A highlight of the trail was the opportunity for visitors to help paint the 80 metre 'artistry in motion' community art wall.

New floats for the 2012 Credit Union Christmas Pageant included Mulga Bill's Bicycle Club, Circus, Winter Wonderland, Christmas Tree, Nativity and 80 Years Young (which led the Pageant with 80 drumming candles.)

A crowd of over 350,000 attended the 2012 Credit Union Christmas Pageant.


2013 - Everybody's Welcome

2013 - Everybody's Welcome

'Everybody’s Welcome’ was the theme for the 2013 Credit Union Christmas Pageant.

Ringo-North Pole Hotline, designed by Casey Van Heuven, won the Design a mini-float competition and appeared in the Pageant for the first time. Other new floats included Little Red Riding Hood, Professor Fizz and her Kaotic Kontraptions, Christmas Fairy Elves and Rudolph’s Christmas Lolly Trolley.

2013 also marked the 175th year of policing in South Australia. The Band of the South Australian Police led the South Australian Police Historical Society Incorporated in the 2013 Credit Union Christmas Pageant as part of their celebrations.

Approximately 600 young performers provided pre-Pageant entertainment along the pageant route and Samantha Jade sang the National Anthem before the whistle blew to start the 2013 Credit Union Christmas Pageant.