A Hub of Festivity: Christmas arrives at 53 Wakefield St

Mercy Light: Connecting

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky at dawn on Saturday November 4, a promising start to what would turn out to be an extraordinary day at St Aloysius College. Members of the 53 Wakefield St Hub planning group started trickling through the gates at 5:30am. It was hard to imagine that, in fewer than two hours, the dimly lit campus would be soaked in sunshine and teeming with people.

Adelaide’s Christmas cheer boasts a history almost as long as the life of SAC, beginning with the opening of the Magic Cave in 1896 – Father Christmas’ local residence – and then, in 1933, the very first Christmas Pageant was created. Father Christmas was escorted to the Magic Cave by eight floats, four bands, observed by 200,000 spectators lining the streets, and lasted around 40 minutes (https://christmaspageant.com.au/about/history)

Although the 1930s were a time of economic depression, and subsequent difficulty for South Australians, the Christmas Pageant gave people hope, a sense of connection and joy.

St Aloysius College is a community that always strives to be a ‘hub’ of the same. For many years, the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant has floated past our Wakefield St doors. Mercy Hospitality is a core element of College identity, so this year, after several years of event cancellations and uncertainty, there seemed no better time than to try something new: opening the Wakefield St doors to the wider community on Pageant Day. And there was no better year to begin this new tradition, with our very ow Old Scholar, Anne Quay (Class of 2000) as this year’s Pageant Queen!

What started as an initial conversation between members of the Old Scholars Association soon captured the hearts and imagination of SAC staff and parents, who banded to form the first ever 53 Wakefield St Hub Planning Group. Seventeen people discussed visions and ideas and transformed them into one of SAC’s most joyous community occasions. There was great anticipation leading up to the inaugural event, publicised by Adelady’s Hayley Pearson in a fabulous segment on Channel 9’s Hello SA! We also received generous support from St John’s Ambulance SA, who partnered with us to provide First Aid and cook the breakfast barbeque.

Behind the scenes with Adelady!

On Pageant Day, more than 700 people from the wider community poured through the doors to enjoy the school’s facilities, refreshments, Christmas-themed activities and the playground. SAC’s popup Op-Shop was showcased, raising over $400 for Mercy Works through sales.

Outside the doors on Wakefield St from 7am, staff, students, parents and daughters traipsed down the street handing out multicoloured chalk for children while spreading the word about tempting treats inside, including hot drinks from Café Komodo, refreshing juice from the Boost Mobeel, Jonny’s Popcorn and of course the scrumptious breakfast barbeque served by St John’s Ambulance staff, volunteers, and SAC Old Scholars.

SAC’s talented Jazz Ensemble, donning Christmas-themed accessories, enticed people inside and the Catholic Schools Music Festival Choir’s performance of some favourite tunes in the Jordan Courtyard provided the perfect entertainment for those making crafts and lining up for refreshments.   

Anjali Becker, in Year 11, volunteered with her mum, Giselle. When they weren’t strolling down Wakefield St spreading the word about the Pageant Hub, they were busily selling items at the popup Op-Shop, including Anjali’s homemade scrunchies.

Anjali said, “Pageant Day has been a tradition in our family since my first Christmas and we know how exciting the event can be but also how tiring sitting out on the street in the lead up to the event can be. At a time where we have gotten older as a family and attending the Pageant is no longer part of our Christmas traditions, it was lovely to be still involved in the event and meet members of the wider community to brighten their morning.”

Anjali’s mother, Giselle, added, “We loved the experience of working in the Op-Shop for Pageant Day! It was so lovely to get to know members of the St Aloysius College community and introduce the public to the incredible opportunities and initiatives of the school. We loved the opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit by putting our Mercy Value of Hospitality into action and we look forward to doing this again next year!”

Anjali and Giselle express sentiments shared by all who were involved in the success of the 53 Wakefield St Hub. Thank you to all the staff, parent/guardian, student and Old Scholar volunteers who helped us on the day and in the leadup to the event.

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing Team

Corporate Supporters:

Planning Group Members: