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
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”.
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.
The Pageant’s First Director
John Martin's staff member Sydney Jones is appointed the first Pageant Director.
Nipper and Nimble
Nipper and Nimble, took part in the first pageant and have been in every pageant since then.
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.
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.
South Australia centenary
Crowds watch the Queen of Hearts float pass by.
Ali baba and the forty thieves
Ali baba and the forty thieves in 1937.
South pole penguins
It was decided that new floats and sets were to be added each year.
No pageant during world war two
The Christmas pageant was not held from 1941 to 1944 due to World War II.
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.
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.
The first elephant float
An elephant float appears in the pageant for the first time, well before the famous Nellie.
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.
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?
Walking sets have always been a popular part of the parade.
A flock of ostriches pass by.
Piggy piggy float
The Piggy Piggy float of 1957.
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.
The pageant queen
The pageant queen of 1962.
Here come the clowns
Clowns have always been an important part of the pageant, including bob-up clowns.
Rehearsals on John Martin's car park roof top.
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.
In 1972 the pageant consisted of 1358 personnel, 48 sets and floats and 20 bands.
Slurp the sea lion
Slurp the sea lion graciously passes an admiring crowd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We're making waves in 2008
1st attempt at a Guinness World Record for the largest Mexican Wave.
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.
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
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.
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.