Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Pageant Oakland, California

She came to visit our first grade class, this beautiful lady with the bright red lipstick and dangling ear rings.

I remember how glamorous she appeared and there she was pointing to me and several other small blond girls.

Our teacher wrote down our names and gave us a permission slip to take home to our parents. We were to join with hundreds of other small girls from various Oakland schools who had also been selected to be the tiny snow fairies in the finalé of the Christmas Pageant held each year at the Oakland city auditorium.

There were many practices and instructions given which were very simple to follow. All we needed to do was put on our sparkly white princess costume and skip out to meet the solo dancer at a signal.

Later as years went by; our children were also selected to be a part in this wonderful traditional presentation.

This pageant was a gigantic rendition similar to the Nut Cracker Suite put on by Louise Jorgensen and the Recreation Department of the City of Oakland.

“As a staff member of the city’s recreation department, Ms Jorgensen would visit 50 schools a week to conduct a half-hour rehearsal in the last few months of the year. The Kaiser Convention Center hosted the pageant’s overflow crowds. (8,000 proud parents, says one source).”

Each school and every grade in our city had a part in the production. There were children dressed as dancing elves, candy canes, holly berries, penguins, polo bears, drummer boys, teams of reindeers with their lady drivers and scores of colorful toys.

The conclusion of the drama was a solo dance by our beautiful Spirit of Christmas lady, as the spot light revealed her twirling and spiraling across the auditorium floor. On cue, as her dance ended, all we little fairy snow princess skipped out to meet the snow queen. We gathered around her as she blessed us with her sweet kisses that she blew in our direction.

“For almost 70 years, from 1919 until the pageant's farewell performance in 1987, a one-woman powerhouse, Louise Jorgensen, transformed the thousands of other Oakland schoolchildren into dancing toys and ballerinas for two performances during the first weekend of December.”

“In 2006, nostalgic teachers organized The Winter Festival, an attempt to revive and secularize the pageant, but this may be one of those feats of the past that is impossible to replicate.”

May your celebration of Christmas include a manger scene, some angels and shepherds, and perhaps a wise man two or three.

Beauty in His Grip Button

This post has been linked with Joan Davis Sharing His Beauty Hop. Do visit and enjoy some wonderful words posted there.


  1. What a wonderful tradition! I'm wondering if I may have seen it as a child. I was born in Oakland and then raised just through the "tunnel" in the East Bay. Each Christmas we had several different traditions, one of which was going to see the Nutcracker Suite in SF. But, still, I'm wondering if one year I may have seen this production you are writing about as it sounds so familiar. Blessings to you this Christmas season! May we always remember to keep Christ in Christmas!

    Living for Him, Joan

    P.S. Thanks for linking up today!

  2. It's a shame, now the secular world wants a way to make money off a kids. I'm with you, as long as we honor God at Christmas it will be one of great joy.

  3. Yes always, thank you Hazel
    Love, Vicki K

  4. I lived in the Bay Area in '69 to '74, and never knew anything about this. So pleased that it was being "gifted" to the young ones. God is so willing to "gift" us when we are willing.

  5. I went to Santa Fe Elementary School and was one of the little blonde fairies in the grand finale of the pageant. It must have been 1952 or 1953. I remember sitting in a theater watching cartoons prior to going out to perform. As I recall, there were hundreds of us twirling around; yet, my Mother says she spotted me! A few years ago, an elementary school classmate send me a photo she found of a few of us in costume. What a treasure!

  6. I loved the Christmas Pageant. We were given one ticket for one parent for one night. My father always bought us tickets for both nights. I told my kids, my friends, my students about the awesome pageant put on by Miss Jorgensen for two magical nights. We also got to keep the socks-WOW. We were fortunate enough to attend Sequoia Elementary School. I loved the peageant, my siblings loved the pageant; all four of us were in it, a snowfalke, a penguin, a hollyberry, two snow women, a ray of the sun (in high school.) precious memories.

  7. I loved the Christmas pageant. It is still with me today. I share the Nutcracker music with my first graders, my kids, my friends. It was a magical time. Among the four siblings from Sequoia School, we were penguins, snow fairies, snow women, holly berries, and a ray of the sun in high school. Those are absolutely some of the best memories of Miss Jorgensen and elementary school. My father would always buy tickets for us for two nights even though we were only given one ticket per parent. LOVED IT!!!!!!!!

  8. I was in the Christmas Pageant twice. First as a little snow fairy from Anthony Chabot School around 1966, and then a few years later as a caroler with the Oakland Children's Chorus. It was a huge event, and absolutely magical. It seemed extra special because I remember seeing the Ringling Bros. circus in the auditorium, so performing in the same space was a real thrill.

  9. I was in the Pageant twice, as a snow fairy from Anthony Chabot School around 1966, and a few years later as a caroler with the Oakland Children's Chorus. It was a truly grand spectacle. I remembered seeing the Ringling Bros. circus at the Auditorium, so performing in the same space was a special thrill.

  10. The Oakland Children's Pageant was such a wonderful piece of my childhood. I was in it from 1976 as a Fairy through the last one 1987. I also took dance class with Miss Jorgenson every Wed. afternoon at a church near downtown Oakland. There were fun performances through the year as well, Doll Day, Maypole Spring Dance, performances at Children's Fairyland. I recently found the 1981 Christmas pageant online in it's entirety...I was so excited I cried with joy while watching it. I also found a lovely tribute to Miss Jorgensen at Children's Fairyland in Oakland - There are statues of 3 little girl fairies dancing...it brought tears to my eyes as well. Such wonderful memories of pageant that touched generations!!!!!

  11. Thank you for sharing the Oakland Christmas Pageant. It was such a wonderful event for the children of Oakland. My mother and her sister were in it as children and my sisters and I were in it. I started as a snow fairy, mistletoe and holly berries, snow woman and reindeer. It was something we looked forward to and enjoyed every Christmas. Miss Jorgensen was a wonderful dance teacher and worked with us so well, inspiring our attention and encouraging us to do our best. When my children were small, we took them to see the Oakland Christmas Pageant, so three generations in our family enjoyed the magic of the Oakland Christmas Pageant. It holds a special place in my heart and is a wonderful memory of my childhood. Thank you, Miss Jorgensen!


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