The Best Ever! Parades in New England, 1788-1940
Everyone loves a parade! Filled with drawings, daguerreotypes, historical photographs, and detailed description, The Best Ever! brings to life the creativity and impact of New England parades, while expanding popular understanding of many similar events today. Parade days give communities an opportunity to reveal themselves, showing both local residents and out-of-town visitors what is valued and who is respected while giving participants and attendees an opportunity to see and be seen. Parade planners draw upon personal experience, fond memories, cherished symbols, and favorite stories to create floats illustrating memorable scenes from history, honoring civic leaders and military heroes, mourning fallen soldiers or dignitaries, advocating change, inspiring reform, influencing consumer behavior, or celebrating innovation and progress. Specific holidays such as Independence Day, Patriot’s Day, Bunker Hill Day, Armistice Day, and Old Home Day provide additional inspiration for red, white, and blue celebration. Of particular interest is the section on the uniquely New England tradition of “Antiques and Horribles.” The Best Ever! explores common themes in parades, including honor, civic and ethnic identity, fraternity, progress in public works, advocacy of political candidates or favorite causes, memorialization of wartime bravery or cherished virtues, and just plain fun! Each is seen in an exciting public moment, leaving memories of reassuring symbols, influencing action, and raising questions. At the same time they show how ideas have been shaped over time and changed by circumstance, even as perceptions of the past are still evolving and questioned in the present.
Author: Jane C. Nylander