For 40 years the Mt Barker Christmas Pageant has drawn thousands of people to line the town’s streets and celebrate the festive season.
Last year 85 floats and over 1000 volunteers took part in the event, which is the largest regional pageant of its kind in the State.
The news of its cancellation is a tragedy for the community.
It’s too popular and too well run to be abandoned solely because alternative storage arrangements for the 15 permanent floats and many costumes cannot be found.
It would be ideal if a new shed could be secured – big enough to store all the equipment and allow regular and convenient maintenance of the floats.
However, even if the proposed Flaxley site was secured, it is a long way from Mt Barker and would create difficulties in transporting the floats into town each year.
Perhaps the hard-working organising committee should rethink how the pageant can continue using a different formula.
It’s too good an event to let the current problem kill it off for good.
There are many other pageants in the Hills which survive quite successfully without a central storage facility.
Stirling, Woodside and Lobethal each run a popular Christmas pageant without a large number of permanent floats.
Those events are mostly made up of community entries – trucks, utes and vans decked out in tinsel and flanked by enthusiastic volunteers.
Many other entries have no vehicles at all and are just children and groups walking to a theme.
The few permanent floats these communities own are stored in various locations across the district.
There are already up to 70 community entrants in the Mt Barker pageant each year on top of the committee’s 15 floats.
A clean, dry and secure storage facility for the costumes would be required and the Mt Barker Council could become a more enthusiastic partner if the burden of delivering a massive shed was removed.
Homes could be found for the floats in various farm sheds around the district and be maintained on a roster, maybe with help from groups such as the men’s shed.
However, even if every float was lost, except for perhaps Santa’s sleigh, it shouldn’t spell the end for the pageant.
The test will be if there is enough community support behind the historic event to keep it afloat in one way or another.
Maybe more people need to step up and lend some time or space to the struggling 12-person pageant committee if they want Father Christmas to continue coming to town.