Deck the halls… and the streets… and the floats! Nothing says ‘Noel’ like a country town rallying together for a Christmas parade and boy oh boy have there been some crackers over the years.
Across South Australia, regional towns embrace the opportunity to spread some festive cheer and embark on a bit of friendly competition between businesses to try and outdo each other with the best float. From the time he was young lad, Ramsey Bros Managing Director Mark Ward has a stocking full of great memories of the incredible efforts in Cleve.
“The Cleve Pageant has been a big event in our community for as long as I can remember. Held on the last Friday before Christmas, the town gets together in the main street and all the local businesses do a float. It’s a big source of joy for the kids, but just as much for the adults, too!” Mark begins.
“Of course, our Cleve branch of Ramsey Bros is no exception. Every year, there’s a great show of solidarity from the staff in the weeks leading up pulling it together. Plus, a hell of a lot of creativity, using bits and bobs they find around the place… there’s generally a bit of liquor involved too and a healthy dose of competition.
“We’ve taken out the top gong for best float a number of times… and other years, when we were sure we’d nailed it, someone else took out the coveted award. It’s a tough comp! Regardless, there have been so many floats that won’t be forgotten anytime soon,” Mark says.
“We’ve had grown men and women turn blue to become The Smurfs. Another year, one of the former Directors Brad Ramsey and a couple of others got dolled up in drag for a magnificent Priscilla Queen of the Dessert float,” Mark recalls.
“Our crew once crafted a bob-sled from wrought iron and cut up cardboard before squeezing into Lycra suits to come as the Jamaican bob-sled team featured in Cool Runnings. They were fantastic! And other times there has been a bit more of a local theme, like the golf cart that our guys turned into a header which towed a ride-on mower as the chaser bin… that went well… until they crashed it,” Mark laughs.
“And, of course, there are others that went even more left-field. About five or so years ago, the team made a float that was a real hit with the kids —Mater from the Cars movie. He was towing a ride-on John Deere Lawnmower… because we all know they’re unreliable,” Mark says cheekily.
“That was a great little dig at our competition until Mater broke down right in front of the pub! But probably the most dramatic of all the floats was the time our team made a Space Shuttle… it was pretty spectacular and turned heads… especially when it caught on fire just as the float was turning the corner next to the pub! A whole lot of people rushed to help put it out, but the only thing on hand at such a festive celebration was in pint glasses. Good to know that dousing the fire in beer did in fact work,” Mark laughs.
“It sure is a shame that it had to be cancelled this year due to COVID, but we know when it’s back on again in Cleve, it’ll be even better than ever… just hopefully without the flames and drama. No guarantees though,” Mark laughs.
From our family to yours — a huge Merry Christmas! Enjoy your celebrations today xx