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ADELAIDE, Australia – It’s the Australian version of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade only it is sponsored by six credit unions and stars over 1,300 credit union people. This year’s Christmas Pageant was held on Nov. 12 and featured 57 floats, clowns, dancing girls and 14 marching bands. Of course, Father Christmas makes one of his first appearances of the season. By tradition he is on the last float. The parade is considered Australia’s largest community event. This will be the tenth time that credit unions have sponsored the event that began in 1933 -three years after the first Macy Parade – by Sir Edward (Mr. Bill) Hayword, one of the owners of the John Martin Store. The store is no longer in existence. Four floats based on nursery rhyme characters and eight bands marched in the first parade. During World War II, a queen was chosen and her responsibilities included wartime fund raising. However, the parade was suspended for four years during the war. The participating credit unions continued the tradition of a queen. Each credit union nominates a princess, one who will be crowned. Besides presiding over the parade, during the year the queen will participate in different credit union events such as new branch openings. The criteria include good presentation skills, the ability to work with cross-sections of the community and an understanding to credit union values. The queen and her five princesses have their own float. The parade has both old favorites and new floats. This year Swingin’ on a Star, The Young Artists, `Twas the night Before Christmas, Octopus’ Garden and Kingsley’s Vintage Cars will make their initial way down Adelaide streets. Every character in the parade is connected with a credit union as an employee, member or special friend. Children of members participate in a lottery. The winner perches in a spot of honor on a float. The event is a major effort and the statistics behind creating a few hours of magic are not the usual credit union figures seen in annual reports. Seven trucks transport costumes to the parade starting point. Three are full of heads and clown props. Participants are made up by 120 make-up artists in a short two-hour window before the parade. Despite worldwide high “petrol” prices it will still take 1,200 (316 gallons) litres of gas to fuel the floats. The sound and mechanical movements on the floats are operated by 165 car batteries. Clean-up is also a staggering undertaking. Last year 200 boxes of tissues and 60 jars of cleansing cream were needed to remove the make-up. Another week is spent after the parade washing and ironing costumes. Last year 50 (13 gallons) litres of detergent, 18 cans of starch and six bottles of bleach were used. The six credit unions of South Australia that sponsor the event are Australian Central Credit Union, Savings & Loans Credit Union, CPS Credit Union, Police Credit Union, PowerState Credit Union and Satisfac Credit Union. A full-time staff manages the event. Matthew Magarey, spokesperson for the pageant said. “You may wonder what a financial institution has to do with Christmas, but we think it makes great sense for a group of community-focused, member-owned financial institutions to sponsor South Australia’s most beloved community event, the Credit Union Christmas Pageant.” [email protected]

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