Murray Bridge’s Christmas pageant has come a long way since 1959
Graham Edwards reflects on parades past in the wake of the 2021 Riverfront Christmas Festival.
This post was contributed by Graham Edwards of the Auto Collectors Club of Murray Bridge, with photos of the 2021 event by Ben Hedger.
With the 2020 Murray Bridge Christmas parade having being cancelled due to COVID, it was a very different parade to those of the past 62 years that took place on the rather chilly afternoon of November 20, 2021.
Six cars from the Auto Collectors Club of Murray Bridge were among those who participated.
Many thanks must go out to the organisers of this year’s event for their dedication, time and effort, and for working with SA Health officials to bring it together for the enjoyment of families and friends from Murray Bridge and the district, so as to create a joyous and blessed Christmas season under difficult times.
With no marching bands, walking displays, no throwing of sweets into the crowd for the kids and participants only being able to travel in vehicles, it was a different parade for the enthusiastic and welcoming crowd who attended.
They watched on as the parade made its way around one circuit of Sturt Reserve and the adjacent parklands before dispersing.
However, many then enjoyed the food stalls, sideshows, rides and fireworks display that followed during the evening.
Murray Bridge was one of the lucky few South Australian country towns which was privileged to have been given the green light to hold its 2021 pageant, with many other towns not so fortunate.
How far we’ve come.
Let me turn the hands of time back to 1959, the year of the first Christmas parade and festival celebrations, when many people said it wouldn’t last many years.
The route came up Bridge Street, past the town hall, Cox Foy’s, Ryan’s – formerly Bells – and Eudunda Farmers, Offe’s Arcade, Nicolai Electrical, Beauchamp’s Café, the Hoyts theatre, past the bowling and croquet club – now Edwards Square – then past Carnes Garage – now the Woolworths servo – and Potts and Dutton’s Corner before finishing up on Standen Street, with most participants coming back down to Diamond Park with its historic band rotunda in the middle to enjoy the festivities and stalls scattered around the park.
They were the days: kids, mums, dads and grandparents lining both sides of Bridge Street, including myself at the age of 17, watching the locals, driving odd-looking cars, riding penny farthings and, of course, not forgetting Father Christmas, who turned up by horse and cart, along with dignitaries and judges on the back of a truck at the old gun, now at the RSL.
My, how wrong were the many doubters of the original pageant.
What a great credit to all people, past and present who have been involved in the staging of this great family tradition, albeit with many minor changes and tweaking over the past 62 years.
I think we would all say “please keep this tradition alive in the years to come”.
Photos from Murray Bridge’s 2021 Christmas pageant
Ben Hedger was there to capture photos of the 2021 Murray Bridge Riverfront Christmas Festival and parade.
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