News from Stardust Castle
Meet Alan, a Pageant volunteer for over 50 years
21 May 2020
Each year, over 3,000 volunteers help to bring the Pageant to life both inside the blue honour line and behind the scenes. This week is National Volunteers Week and we'd
like to thank each and every one of our wonderful volunteers who give their time, passion and enthusiasm to help make the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant a wonderful, safe and fun event. Without them, the Pageant as we know it wouldn't be possible.
In celebration of National Volunteers Week, we profiled Alan, a dedicated and passionate Pageant day volunteer who is coming into his 52nd year volunteering at the Pageant. Alan recalls the moment he first escorted a float down the Pageant route - “The sheer pump of adrenalin as I pulled out of South Tce into King William street took my breath away. The noise and smiling faces, the happiness of Children and Adults alike filled the air for the entire procession”.
We asked Alan about his role on Pageant day and what made him become a volunteer all those years ago.
Q: How long have you been involved in the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant?
A: I have been involved with the Christmas Pageant for 52 years (which includes this 2020 parade).
Q: What made you want to volunteer at the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant?
A: I started working for John Martins in 1969 and did my first Pageant that year. From memory I think it was the Gulliver’s Travels float (which I drove). I had never experienced anything like it before in my life. The sheer pump of adrenalin as I pulled out of South Tce into King William street took my breath away. The noise and smiling faces, the happiness of Children and Adults alike filled the air for the entire procession.
After Johnnies had closed, a lot of the people involved with the Pageant were asked if they would like to continue on driving and contributing with the tradition that was a South Australian icon. I jumped at the chance to volunteer my time albeit in a different role. The feeling from my initial Pageant and every ensuing one had never left me.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about volunteering at the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant?
A: My favourite thing about volunteering for the Pageant I would say is the feeling of being involved in ensuring that the event is presented, without a hitch on the second Saturday in November each year. That my part helps it to function on time regardless of the weather conditions on the day. I have encountered all conditions, freezing cold to searing heat, wind and rain (the rain always seemed to stop as the procession began then started again after Santa was in his Magic cave).
Getting my running sheet in order, laying out my Pageant shirt and cap the night before. Setting the alarm. Going to bed early with the same sense of excitement that I feel every year.
Q: What does your role on the day involve?
A: My role on the day involves starting the day at 5am, leaving the depot and driving to South Terrace at 6. Once there, myself and a group of designated volunteers prepare South Tce for the arrival of the floats. When they arrive we guide them to their positions on the Northern and Southern side of the road. It is most important and essential that they are in the correct order to leave. Once they are all settled in it’s time for breakfast. At 8am I leave for Franklin Street. I ensure bottles of water are easily available and accessible for the characters that accompany the floats after they have finished their journey of the pageant route. That the portaloo toilets are in the correct places. That buses are lined up safely ready to transport people back to South Tce. When all the buses have left and nobody has been left behind, I do a check of the area, then head back to the depot.
Q: When you’re not volunteering, what keeps you busy?
A: When I’m not volunteering, my life in retirement involves doing day classes at U3A. Monday is an Art class, Pencil, Pastel colouring, also involves a fair bit of enjoyable homework. Tuesday I’m trying to learn to speak German. Both classes have a good social environment, and I have made many new friends in both. I visit the Gym twice a week. Enjoy going to watch local sanfl Football.
I have been married for 52 years, we have four grown Children who have presented us with 12 Grandchildren, ages ranging from 2 to 16. ( 6 Interstate and 6 in Adelaide) and they keep me more busy than anything else.
Q: What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
A: My favourite thing about Christmas is that it is the time that all our Children and all the Grandchildren are together. Every year from Brisbane, from Perth and Adelaide, our families meet here. We try and go to a caravan park in the Barossa or down South together after Christmas day at our place, where it seems like a thousand prezzies are scattered under the tree that is still put up every year.