22 Sep 2021

Ten things you might not know about the 2020 National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant

Everyone agrees 2020 was different – and the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant was too! Rather than taking to city streets it became a theatrical COVID-safe event at Adelaide Oval.

While the event’s spirit and philosophy stayed true to tradition, planning a pageant in this format was a whole new experience.  

Here are 10 facts about the 2020 National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant you may not have known:

  1. The historic version of the NPCP was planned in just 10 weeks
    Stardust Castle was abuzz! We knew COVID-19 was going to make holding major events in their usual format tricky, but we were determined to continue delivering festive joy. It was time to find an alternative home for this unique celebration.

    Staging the pageant at Adelaide Oval created special new opportunities that a traditional street event couldn’t offer – but there were only 10 weeks to make it all happen! Our elves worked around the clock to pull together a spectacular and historic event.
  1. The main event was the first time the floats had been on the oval
    With 47 floats to coordinate and limited time, rehearsing with the floats on Adelaide Oval wasn’t possible. What to do? Our clever elves devised a system of ropes that were measured to the exact distance and length of every single float so the team could practise timing and positioning on the oval. The first time our audience saw the floats move wonderfully around the oval was the first time anyone had seen it!

  2. There were 22 stage managers
    The National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant was treated as a theatrical performance with dancers, singers, bands, pyrotechnics and floats all working together to create a unique and special event. To look after all the moving parts there were two senior stage managers supported by 20 assistant stage managers who made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time.

  3. We had to build a road on the oval
    As floats usually parade around Adelaide and are designed and built for roads, our team of logistic elves thought hard about how floats could use Adelaide Oval while still having enough room to manoeuvre – and without damaging its turf. It was vital the grass stayed in good condition. A special road was laid just two days before the pageant and removed straight after it finished.

  4. There was only one way the floats could enter and exit the oval
    The size and delicacy of our floats meant there was just one spot at the oval that would allow them to enter and exit. Only one group of floats could be on the oval at once, which is why the floats were split into two groups. Our operational elves had to consider lots of scenarios, including what would happen if one of the floats broke down during the event and there was only one way out! They came up with a clever plan to build split lanes as part of the road so floats could be pushed aside if needed. Another interesting fact: the entry and exit point was only just wide enough for the floats. Father Christmas’s float had just a 40-centimetre gap on either side! The reindeers guided him through perfectly.

  5. The National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant was the most watched non-sporting program of the year
    Australians embraced this historic moment in pageant history by watching its broadcast from home. Locals were especially supportive of the event, with hundreds of thousands of viewers making the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant the most watched program of the year in South Australia outside of live sport.

  6. There were more than 400 dancers and 100 singers
    It’s common for dance groups and choirs to parade along the streets along with floats, but 2020 gave us a huge oval to bring alive. More than 400 dancers filled Adelaide Oval for the entire two hours, creating an energetic atmosphere even when they were a COVID-safe distance of two metres apart! There were more than 100 singers who performed carols from the northern stands and alongside headline performer Hugh Sheridan.

  7. Every float had a float marshal
    There were 23 float marshals throughout the event who led floats around the oval. Their job was to ensure there was enough distance (nine meters to be exact!) between each float so they could all fit on the oval.

  8. We paid tribute to frontline workers
    In what was a challenging time for so many, we included a special tribute to the courageous frontline workers who faced their most challenging year to date. In the pre-pageant show, emergency service vehicles took to the oval while Pageant Director Brian Gilbertson made a powerful speech acknowledging and celebrating each and every emergency service and frontline worker. A 300-person mass band played Highland Cathedral after he spoke.

  9. A Blue Honour Line was painted on Adelaide Oval
    It wouldn’t be the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant without the symbolic Blue Honour Line! In 2020 it was painted around the oval. Rather than children and families being behind the line it was instead the participants who sat and waved at the children in the grandstands from behind the Blue Honour Line.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the 2020 National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant and are so excited to celebrate with you on Saturday 13 November when festive joy returns to Adelaide Oval. 


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