One of the Geelong traditions is Gala Day, it has been running for over 90 years and has brought joy to generations of people from Geelong and surrounds. Gala Day has been a day for the young and young at heart to celebrate and really have fun along the 2km city loop.
Every year in November, thousands flock to the streets of Geelong to watch the huge street parade. The parade brings colour, sound and plenty of magic, plus the odd celebrity or some of our sporting heroes from down Kardinia Park way, who are always crowd favourites.
The parade also features many famous furry mascots, clowns and other performers that really thrill the crowd. Over the years Santa, Humphrey B Bear, Half Cat, Bob the Builder and the Lorax are just a few of the famous faces who have appeared in the Gala Day parade.
Many corporate and community groups spend hundreds of hours building elaborate floats, complete with performers in fancy costumes and fully choreographed routines. Highland Bands, military bands, horses, dance troupes and vintage cars. The Geelong people sure know how to put on a great parade.
For 91 years of its history, Gala Day was held on a Friday that was a public holiday for many of the schools around the Geelong region, but in 2008 the day moved to Saturday making it more accessible to many more people. Some pretty bad weather upset the first Saturday event in 2008, but it takes much more than bad weather to dampen the Gala Day spirit.
After the parade the celebration continues in parklands around the city, with food, entertainment and other attractions topping of one of the most fun days on the Geelong’s event calendar.
Gala Day raises much needed funds for the Geelong Hospital Appeal which is supported by dozens of community groups and businesses in the region. The first Gala Day was held in November of 1916 as a major fund raiser for the Red Cross Society’s World War 1 effort. The Geelong Advertiser at the time reported it as “the gayest spectacle, and the highest in patriotic purpose”; how words have changed over the years. The first event was a huge success raising 5500 pounds for the Red Cross, which must be an enormous amount in today’s terms. The Geelong Hospital took over the festival in 1927 and has ran it ever since.
During the 40’s 50s, 60’s and even into the 70’s Gala Day was probably biggest event on the Geelong Calendar, and crowds were enormous. After the parade Moorabool Street from Malop Street to the water transformed and jam packed with amusements, a side show alley and huge carnival rides, which ran into the late evening. Today Gala Day has been scaled down to a more manageable size and to compete with the other events in the town. Gala Day remains as one of our premier events and much loved by the people of Geelong.
For more details of this years event check out the Barwon Health website http://www.barwonhealth.org.au/geelonghospitalappeal or keep an eye out on our whats on guide for next years event.