Now that the Orange Blossom Festival Parade in the Hills has returned it has brought back a few memories from the past. As a member of the Orange Blossom Festival Management Committee during the mayoral term of Clr. Sonya Phillips, I attended the Street Parade, then held at Castle Hill.
A photograph was taken by a press photographer from one of the local newspapers at the time of two clowns taking part in the parade. One of the clowns had the surname “Jones”. The following week the photograph appeared on the front page of the paper naming the clown in the caption of the photo and saying “the son of Ivor Jones of the OBF Committee”.
I wrote to the newspaper concerned, pointing out that I did not have any sons. As my wife and I only have daughters, I wonder if my dear wife thought that I had a son that she didn’t know about. But that aside, this article is to give some background about past Orange Blossom Festivals.
My colleague on this magazine, Bev Jordan, wrote in “The Hills Shire Times” of September 10, 2002, which was the second year that the street parade was held in the Saturday evening rather than midday Saturday. This is what she wrote “The loudest cheer in the OBF parade was for the message of unity promoted by the Baha’i people as they walked along Old Northern Road at Castle Hill and the biggest laugh was for the pizza boy who danced through the parade with that night’s special offer. More than 800 people took part in the parade celebrating a rich diversity of life in The Hills”.
Scottish pipers and the Marching Kangaroos also took part in the parade and, as Bev told readers at the time, “The parade was a culmination of a day of colour and fun at Castle Hill Park with rides, side shows, a cultural festival and non-stop entertainment”.
Earlier OBF Parades were conducted travelling along Old Northern Road between the shopping centres of Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill. Later parades were conducted in various localities throughout the Hills including North Rocks, Kellyville and Kenthurst with Kenthurst continuing to conduct an annual parade each year organised by the Kenthurst Rotary Club.
In preparing this article, I contacted a friend, Pam Wilson, The Secretary of the Hills District Historical Society and asked if she could provide some detail on the history of the festival and she advised me of the following –
“In 1957, Councillor Eric Mobbs suggested that the Baulkham Hills Shire Council should hold a footpath and garden competition to encourage neighbourhood pride.
The following year, September 1958, a one-day Orange Blossom Festival was held in recognition of the part orange cultivation had played in the Shire’s early history. By 1969, the Garden Competition and Festival ran in the second week of September. It developed into an annual event for over 40 years”.
The Historical Society currently holds copies of the official programmes of past festivals at their Museum at Building 10, Masonic Schools, 92 Seven Hills Road, Baulkham Hills. The Museum is open on the first and third Saturday of every month between 12pm and 3pm.
Growing in size and community participation with numerous fairs in different parts of the Shire and differing events becoming part of the overall festivities, it was a muchanticipated event for many decades. Amongst the many events, one of the most popular, especially among the teenagers and twenty somethings, was the Orange Blossom Princess Contest.
There were also Vintage Car displays, Talent Quests, Balls and Art Competitions. Local Community groups were encouraged to join in the parades and activities. Members of Scouting groups, Girl Guides, School Bands, Church groups, dancing schools, migrant groups, Bush Fire Brigades and Emergency Services all took part in the street parades as well as a number of car clubs often transporting the reigning Orange Blossom Princess, adding to the colour, vitality and variation of parade entrants.
The OBF mascot of “Pippa” the Orange was introduced in the 2000s and remains so to this day. I would be interested in hearing from readers who have participated over the years in Orange Blossom events or parades.
Write and tell us of your experiences. I am always on the lookout for interesting items for these pages. Contact details are on Page 2 of this magazine.