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shaneo69
03-20-2006, 08:10 PM
WEIR: IT CAN HAPPEN AGAIN
Mar 20, 2006, 8:32:02 AM by Eileen Weir

Incorporated as the City of Kansas by the State of Missouri in March of 1853, Kansas City experienced almost instantaneous success and growth as a premiere progressive settlement in America’s open plains. With an estimated population of 2,500 at the time of its establishment, Kansas City had grown to a city of more than 60,000 by 1880, realizing colossal advances in agriculture, livestock, industry and culture throughout the mid-19th century.

By 1884, the city fathers of the burgeoning metropolis hatched a plan to celebrate the achievements of the great city of the Midwest and boost Kansas City’s regional reputation as a leader in commerce, industry, and urbanity. Already a provincial epicenter as host city for the Kansas City Agricultural and Horticultural Fair and the National Agricultural Exposition, Kansas City sought to capitalize further on the popularity of these contemporaneous events by hosting a week-long harvest festival.

Celebrations of the extraordinary type were popular in the 1880’s, with extravagant festivals executed in major industrial centers such as Omaha, Baltimore, and Memphis, among others. By 1878, St. Louis had created its famed Veiled Prophet festival and parade to coincide with the Agricultural and Mechanical Fair. The fair and accompanying street party offered St. Louisans a chance to celebrate the harvest season and view prize-winning livestock, crops and produce. The Veiled Prophet has enjoyed uninterrupted success for 128 years.

Brought to the New World as early as 1699, New Orleans’ renowned Mardi Gras festival experienced a lengthy hiatus during the late 18th century due to a legal prohibition of masked festivals instilled by the governor until 1923. Briefly revived in the early 19th century, Mardi Gras was once again sent into banishment due to violent behavior by masked participants until 1857 when six New Orleaneans salvaged the pre-Lenten celebration by forming the Comus organization who elevated the standards and security of the event, proving to city leaders that it could benefit the region as a safe and jovial hallmark of the south.

Instigators of Kansas City’s fall festival originated from the Flambeau Club, a civic organization populated by the leading businessmen of the day. Performing a pageant at the 1884 Republican National Convention held in Kansas City, the troupe found itself on the receiving end of invitations to perform at celebrations and fairs across the country. Wishing to bank their talents and new-found marketability at home, the influential crowd set out to create a local festival. Calling themselves the Priests of Pallas, in symbolic homage to the Greek goddess Pallas Athene, the visionary copycats set about launching Kansas City’s own elaborate signature event.

Adopting a mythological theme, inventors of the Priests of Pallas festival concocted a seven day celebration that bowed in gratitude to Athena, the goddess of prosperity and wisdom, inventor of the flute, the ox-yoke, the plow, the horse bridle and chariot, goddess of household arts and crafts, weaving, spinning and textiles, guardian of warriors, protector of arts, and champion of justice and civil law. Representing merchandising, law and justice, agricultural commerce, transportation, insurance, financial services, real estate and newspaper publishing, the POP founders considered Pallas Athene a worthy muse for their combined business endeavors and sought to create a tribute that would evoke a theme of continued blessings of prosperity on the city.

With a principle goal of competing in the marketplace with cross-state rival St. Louis, the enterprising group disguised their economic goals with eye-popping parades and parties to delight the upper crust of Kansas City society and attract farmers from across the region. Staged in concurrence with the Veiled Prophet, at the peak of the fall harvest, the intent of the POP committee was to compel growers to sell the bounty of their crops to Kansas City merchants rather than to the St. Louis or Omaha markets. Sellers, it was presumed, would likely choose to market their goods in a city where entertainment was on tap every night.

Central to the Priest of Pallas festival was a sophisticated parade, complete with ornate floats built on the chassis of the existing trolley cars and more than 150 marching bands from across the Midwest. The parade welcomed Pallas Athene back to her chosen city and kicked off the week of public and private parties. Historical accounts record that as many as 400,000 spectators converged on the streets of downtown to witness the POP merriment, including the country’s president Grover Cleveland.

Crowning the seven days of revelry was an exclusive masquerade ball attended by only the elite of Kansas City society. Limited to one thousand guests, the Priests of Pallas Ball commenced at midnight on the final evening of the festival, and was acknowledged as the premiere social event of the region. Each year, the ball was commemorated by a one-of-a-kind souvenir, of which only one thousand were produced, after which the mold was destroyed. The souvenir itself conformed to certain specifications, required to be no more than five pounds in weight, preferably one pound, and useful. Mementos included such items as bud vases, desk sets, trays and clothes brushes.

News coverage of the festival, detailed descriptions of the lavish floats, and tantalizing accounts of the sumptuous parties dominated the press. Extensive stories preceded the yearly undertaking for weeks prior to the anticipated unveiling, while recollections of the sounds and sights peppered the papers long after the final visitor had vacated the city.

The Priests of Pallas festival continued to thrive and adapt to the quickly changing culture of turn-of-the-century America for twenty-five years, sustained by a devoted band of planners, a longing for its particular brand of gaiety, and its recognizable impact on Kansas City economics. In 1912, however, event organizers announced that there would be no parade the following year, although the ball would continue. What had been expected to be a one-year hiatus resulted in a decade-long cessation of the extravaganza, which was briefly revived from 1922-1924, then disappeared from the city’s cultural memory.

The evaporation of thematic carnival-inspired celebrations during the 1920’s is of little mystery. Kansas City was developing into a major financial and political hub, depending less and less on its agricultural roots and the stock yards for fiscal growth. Motion picture, the motorcar, phonographs and amusement parks captured the attention of the leisure class, allowing even the middle class to seek entertainment in new and innovative ways. As Priests of Pallas historian Thomas Spencer observed in a 2003 article, the celebration “simply did not have the support from the community.”

It is nearly unimaginable that a happening of such magnitude, organized to such an extent that it had its own holding company, has so completely vanished from the cultural and historical fabric of Kansas City. Save a lively collectors market that hungrily scours local antiques shops and the Internet for POP memorabilia, the imprint of our region’s premiere attraction has been effectively obliterated. Twenty-seven years of unsurpassed buzz, drawing national, if not international, acclaim to Missouri’s western edge, managed and directed by the town’s most recognizable leaders, gone.

Times change. Circumstances change. Leadership changes. There is no public outcry to keep a tradition alive. Indifference and apathy settle in. “Someone” will rise up and save the iconic places and experiences that define a city, we assert. “No one” can take our cultural identity from us, we comfortably assume.

It can happen. It did happen.

Vote “yes” on April 4th.

http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2006/03/20/weir_it_can_happen_again/

Simplex3
03-20-2006, 09:09 PM
I didn't even read the article and I can tell you these facts about it:

1. She's full of s**t.
2. There are very few (if any) actual facts in the story to support any assertions she's making.
3. Whatever she's recommending is in the best interrest of Carl & Lamar's pockets.

listopencil
03-20-2006, 09:16 PM
The evaporation of thematic carnival-inspired celebrations during the 1920’s is of little mystery. Kansas City was developing into a major financial and political hub, depending less and less on its agricultural roots and the stock yards for fiscal growth. Motion picture, the motorcar, phonographs and amusement parks captured the attention of the leisure class, allowing even the middle class to seek entertainment in new and innovative ways. As Priests of Pallas historian Thomas Spencer observed in a 2003 article, the celebration “simply did not have the support from the community".


The people have spoken. Let it die.

Dartgod
03-20-2006, 09:16 PM
I didn't even read the article and I can tell you these facts about it:

1. She's full of s**t.
2. There are very few (if any) actual facts in the story to support any assertions she's making.
3. Whatever she's recommending is in the best interrest of Carl & Lamar's pockets.
Vote “yes” on April 4th.

Ari Chi3fs
03-20-2006, 10:22 PM
Come on Eileen... Weir? On her face.

Halfcan
03-20-2006, 10:27 PM
ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ