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Holidays and Festivals

What do these photos tell you about the different holidays & festivals city people celebrated?

Christmas In Denver- 1905

The children beside the Christmas tree are Richard and Virginia Downing. The photo was taken at their home in Denver on December 25, 1905.

Christmas In Denver- 1905

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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In the early 1900s, Christmas was one of the biggest holidays of the year in Colorado. It still is. However, the Christmas tree and the gifts children receive have changed. The tree in this photo is decorated with strings of popcorn, paper chains, cards and ball ornaments. The gifts include a saw and sawbuck, a little boom and carpet sweeper, and a ball.

Their Own Words

"Everyone who was anyone had a Christmas tree, and we made most of our own decorations. Strings of popcorn and cranberries, paper chains, popcorn balls, strings of tinsel, a few "boughten" balls of brightest color, and so on. We had saved during the year every scrap of tinfoil which we used to cover various shapes cut from cardboard, making a small hole at the top through which we drew scraps of ribbon for hangers."

Source: Quantrille McClung, Memoirs of My Childhood and Youth in North Denver (Denver: Colorado Genealogical Society, 1979): 61.

Labor Day Parade- 1901

This is a Labor Day parade that took place in Denver on September 2, 1901.

Labor Day Parade- 1901

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Labor Day was another important holiday. It was held on the first Monday of September to honor working people.

Festival Of Mountains And Plains

This parade was held in Denver in October 1901 during the Festival of Mountain and Plain.

Festival Of Mountains And Plains

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Denver held a festival each year from 1899 to 1905 called the Festival of Mountain and Plain. It included parades through downtown Denver. The men in the front rows of this photo are soldiers marching with rifles.

Their Own Words

"For years the annual Festival of Mountain and Plain was eagerly looked forward to. It must have taken place in the autumn for some of the downtown streets were closed to traffic and booths set up where all sorts of the products of the state were displayed, always the choicest varieties of the yield of farm and garden and anything of unusual size of quality was given special attention."      

"There were several parades, but the finest of all was the parade of "The Slaves of the Silver Serpent." There were many glittering floats lighted by torches carried by men in fire-proof costumes and walking alongside the floats. This was the last word in mystery and glamour to a child." 

Source: Quantrille McClung, Memoirs of My Childhood and Youth in North Denver (Denver: Colorado Genealogical Society, 1979): 61.

Decorated Carriage- 1899

The decorated carriage in this photo took part in the 1899 parade of the Festival of Mountain and Plain.

Decorated Carriage- 1899

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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The Festival of Mountain and Plain included a decorated carriage contest. Dozens of carriages covered with flowers, crepe paper, and other decorations rode in the parade. The best decorated won prizes. The carriage in this photo won the first prize in 1899.

Their Own Words

"One of the most pleasing features of the long line will be the parade of decorated carriages, buggies and traps of various kinds…. The decorations will not be limited to flowers, natural and artificial, but grains and grass, ribbons and bunting and other decorative materials will be used."

Source: Official Programme of the Festival of Mountain and Plain, Denver, Colorado, Oct. 16, 17, 18, 1895 (Denver, 1895): 14.

Sunflower Carnival Parade- 1900

These women drove this carriage in the Sunflower Carnival parade in Colorado Springs. The photo was taken about the year 1900.

Sunflower Carnival Parade- 1900

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Other Colorado cities also had parades in which people drove decorated carriages. Colorado Springs called its festival the Sunflower Carnival. The carriage in this photo was decorated with evergreen branches and white, crepe paper calla lilies.

Their Own Words

"A very interesting and unusual spectacle will be seen on the streets [of Colorado Springs] next Saturday afternoon in the form of a sunflower parade. It is often seen in the East, but this will be the first time in Colorado. . . . Colorado Springs adopted its new holiday with an enthusiasm that extended to all classes. Delicate and cultured ladies risked their complexions in the rays of the afternoon sun. . . ."

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, September 6, 1983, and September 10, 1893, quoted in Therese S. Westermeier, “Colorado Festivals (Part III),”  Colorado Magazine, 30 (July 1953): 200.

Float In Sunflower Carnival Parade

This float is a replica of a railroad locomotive and caboose. It took part in a Sunflower Carnival parade in Colorado Springs.

Float In Sunflower Carnival Parade

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The float in this photo was sponsored by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. It won first prize.

Their Own Words

"The flower carnival of 1894 is a thing of the past and was pronounced by the judges to be the largest, fairest and most beautiful fete ever held in the West. . . . The procession was fully a mile long. There were pretentious four-in-hands [carriages drawn by four horses] fancifully and vividly decorated with all sorts of flowers and with fair women gracing the seats and from these a long line of vehicles graduated to the little goat-cart. . . . the pageant was witnessed by fully 10,000 people, and the various exhibits were all heartily applauded. . . ."

Source: Denver Republican, August 17, 1894 quoted in quoted in Therese S. Westermeier, “Colorado Festivals (Part III),”  Colorado Magazine, 30 (July 1953): 200-201.