For people who have grown up in Geelong, Gala Day is best known for its parade that has marched down our city’s main streets since 1916.
Celebrating over a century since the first Gala Day float rolled down Ryrie Street to the bells and voice of the town crier, children of the past are now the grandparents and parents lining up with their own children to enjoy the day’s festivities.
Gala Day has brought fun, entertainment and community pride to generations of Geelong people. Each year, thousands of people gather in the Geelong CBD to watch the colourful floats, sporting heroes, familiar celebrities and animated movie characters in the parade. Many community and corporate groups also take part in the event by building elaborate floats accompanied by performers and mascots.
The modern gadgets in our lives including computers, televisions and smartphones are no substitute for a brass band, clowns, puppets, exotic floats, wailing fire engines, vintage cars and a host of interesting displays. Gala Day provides an opportunity for children and the community to disconnect from technology and reconnect as a community to celebrate a great tradition.
Gala Day was arguably the biggest event on the Geelong Calender from the 1940s through to the 1970s and today we can still recognise its strong presence within our community.
From 1927 through to very recent years, the purpose of Gala Day was to raise money for the Geelong Hospital Appeal. More recently, the Barwon Health Foundation refocused the aim of Gala Day, it is now considered predominantly as a ‘thank you’ to the Geelong community for supporting the various fundraising events throughout the year.
In 2015, the Gala Day parade traditionally held during the day was moved to capture twilight, featuring a beautiful display of lanterns and lights throughout the parade. Since 2008, Gala Day has been held on a Saturday enabling greater accessibility for the community.