NOWRA enjoyed a huge community event five days before Christmas 1906 - a garden fete and Christmas fete in aid of the School of Arts.
The evening function was held in the spacious gardens adjoining Arthur Morton's East Street residence.
There was the promise of a gift for every child, and this may have helped boost the crowd to around 500.
The grounds had been decorated with bunting, and they were illuminated by hundreds of Chinese lanterns.
Nowra Town Band performed under Bandmaster Taylor, while there several stalls on the eastern boundary.
Recently re-elected Federal Member, George Fuller performed the official opening, briefly praising the promoters and the organisation that was to benefit.
However he soon introduced the special guest who held the greatest attraction to the younger generation.
Thomas Marriott was many things to the Nowra community, and on this occasion he had the role of Father Christmas.
He apologised for being "a little before his time, but he could not help that, as he had to go all over the world, and he found he could not do it in one night!"
"At one time he entered the homes of the children by means of the chimney," the report continued, "but to keep pace with the times he now used a motor car"
Every child in attendance accepted a present from a very busy Father Christmas.
Visiting performers also entertained the crowd with their varied skills.
Wyatt Burns gave a clever exhibition of sleight of hand tricks, and although surrounded by his audience, his methods went undetected.
An escapologist, Mr Faust was bagged, handcuffed and securely fastened in a box that was placed behind a screen, only to emerge 32 seconds later.
However, local police constable Herbert Gray suggested he would be able to lock up Faust so that he couldn't escape.
Music was provided by the daughters of the Prince of Wales publican Frank Havenhand, one on the piano and the other on violin, while Mr R. Atherton sang a parody on The Honeysuckle and the Bee - described as a sort of city and vegetable medley.
Palmist, Madame Perry was also on hand to tell fortunes for a small charge.
In the end about £30 was raised for the School of Arts, but the social success of the function could not be estimated.
When Christmas did arrive at Nowra, a party of carol singers serenaded the town in the wee small hours.
There was a large contingent of tourists who came to the district, some of whom went to the resorts of Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin.
However the most popular place for those in the Nowra district on Boxing Day was to board one of the motor launches for Roseby Park (Crookhaven Heads).
Messrs Elyard, Murray, O'Keefe and Wilson ferried the people to the seaside, but found it hard to keep to the advertised times.
Back in Nowra there was some excitement after Harriett Kimpton married John W. Miller, for they were driven around town in a [horse-drawn] drag, flying the Union Jack.
Information thanks to Shoalhaven Historical Society
Read more: Local history
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