A Wonderful Surprise: The Normanville New Year's Eve Pageant
I love a small country town parade or pageant. Having grown up in numerous Australian country towns, I’ve always been fascinated with how they bring together all strata of a community in celebration. If I’m really honest my favourite bit has always been seeing the fire and emergency services having fun and sounding their sirens for a non-emergency. (This could just be because I’ve always secretly wanted to be a fire fighter just so I can ring the siren.)
Anyway, my love of fire fighters aside, we were excited to learn that Normanville, the small South Australian town we’re currently visiting is famous for its annual New Year’s Eve pageant. As with most of the fantastic things we’ve stumbled upon, we heard about it by randomly chatting to the locals who lit up whenever it was mentioned. According to our local sources it was an entire community affair and unlike anything else we would have seen. Knowing how proud people get about their communities and having seen how small this town is, I’ve got to admit I was prepared for a couple of floats, a firetruck and maybe a few of the local vintage car owners showing off their polished chrome. That would have been wonderful too, especially since Tony had never been to a small town parade, but what we got was something much, much better.
For starters we weren’t prepared for the number of people attending. This is a sleepy beach town most of the year, but it’s as if half of Adelaide comes down for New Year’s and it was easy to see why. The parade was held on Jetty Road, leading to the beach and a few hours before, the road was shut off from cars. Then all the children within what seemed like a fifty mile radius were given coloured chalks to scribble on the bitumen to their hearts’ content while their parents set up chairs and their eskies (coolers) on the roadside to have a couple of drinks and some dinner.
We found a nice spot on the curb to park, right next to a clump of pre-school aged Tinkerbells who were plotting on how to get the biggest haul of sweets when the parade started. Their ringleader was a feisty little blonde and I'm pretty sure I heard her say “go hard or go home” at one stage. They had all been given pillow cases to collect their haul so I wasn’t gonna mess with them. These were serious little girls.
Somewhere in between the vintage cars, dancing bees, clowns throwing sweets, fire services people and Freddie Mercury impersonators I forgot to take pictures and just enjoyed the show. I’ve got to admit that being tackled once or twice by the Tinkabell Mafia for the sweets that had landed in my lap had something to do with the distraction as well. There are some promising rugby players in that bunch and they’d completely charmed (or strongarmed… I can’t be sure) Tony into collecting loot for them within the first two minutes of the show starting.
By the time the emergency services brought up the rear, we were both grinning like fools and tottered off to the surf lifesaving club on the beach to have a beer and watch the sunset while we waited for the fireworks, which were fantastic and a much bigger display than we expected for a small town.
All in all, it was a brilliant way to see in 2019 and if anyone’s in the area next year, you’ll be missing out if you don’t go.