“Parade of horribles” originally referred to a literal parade of people wearing comic and grotesque costumes, rather like the Philadelphia Mummers Parade. It was a traditional feature of Fourth of July parades in parts of the United States in the nineteenth century, and “Horribles Parades” continue to be part of the Independence Day celebration in several New England communities. (Wikipedia)
The following Article is from July 1910 “Country Life in America”
By V. G. Dudley
July 1910 “Country Life in America”
WETHERSFIELD, Conn., a small town, three miles from Hartford, is one of ?the few places that have started a movement for a fireless Fourth of July, and with some ?success.
The town has no police department, or need of one, and the fire department is also lacking, so preventive measures on this day of days, for lawlessness, are no doubt better and less expense.
The celebration here has grown, from a small parade of “horribles” by the village boys, to one where considerable time and planning are necessary.
Usually a ball game in the morning on the green opens the day’s fun. At noon a band concert, followed by a parade. It is in this parade that there is so much rivalry. Different sections of the town have had their committees at work for days, and the results are generally novel and beautiful.
The houses along the line of march are decorated, and the crowd is augmented by thousands from other places.
This past Fourth the parade was the most elaborate ever given, there being seven large floats representing as many parts of the town. The prize winner, the A. O. H. float, was decorated with red and white, and United States and Irish flags were used. The Goddess of Liberty and Queen of Erin were surrounded by eight belles of Shandon.
A pretty float was almost completely composed of mountain laurel and contained fifteen girls.
Another float, emblematic of one of the principal vegetables grown in the town, carried five young women dressed as onions. A float of roses was pretty, and the Grange had one of the most elaborate of them all; various comic take-offs on needs of the town were well portrayed.
The parade over, a band concert lasted until late in the afternoon. Later, when darkness came, a fine display of fireworks ended the day.
A committee of prominent young men have the work in charge, practically the same ones serving year after year. The town government has nothing to do with it except individually, and practically all the townspeople have some part in it. Judging by past years the expense is not over $250, divided as follows: band, $100 to 5l25; fireworks, $100; miscellaneous expenses, possibly $50. All is raised by voluntary subscription.
The children have a part in the parade, and it seems to hold their interest well. There is of course some firing, but very little.
More photos of and other information about the Wethersfield Horribles parades is available at Wethersfield Historical Society.
About the Author: John C. Willard