"Never before, nor since, has this old Dutch city seen such Hallowe'en revelry"

halloween carnival

Fore a few years, more than a century ago, Albany had a big, ripping Halloween carnival -- with costumes, a parade (including a Weebermobile), even a Halloween Queen*.

Recalled Ellen Scott in the Times Union in 1962 (links added):

For two years early in the century, the entire city of Albany was dedicated to a mammoth celebration known as the "All Hallow E'en Carnival."
The years were 1904 and 1905. Never before, nor since, has this old Dutch city seen such Hallowe'en revelry. A beautiful queen reigned over the proceedings from a throne on the Capitol steps, surrounded by courtiers and ladies and a special guard of honor. Pumpkin-decorated gates guarded four entrances to the city. A huge parade featured elaborate floats and costumes. ...
These were Chamber of Commerce sponsored affairs and enthusiastically endorsed by city businessmen. Thousands of sightseers with money to spend came by special excursion trains from miles around. [**]
But success also proved to be the Carnival's downfall. Revelry got out of hand. Store fronts were damaged and women were accosted on the streets. Several serious injuries were reported. The two-year-old tradition was regretfully abandoned.

Scott then shares an excerpt from an epic poem inspired by the carnival about a magical elixir called "Van Schlichtenhorth's Real Mountain Dew" written by a David M. Kinnear.

Over at the Albany Group Archive (where else?), there's a collection of materials from these Albany Halloweens past. The program above is via the collection.

Update: Here's a lot more on the carnival from the Friends of Albany History Facebook page.
____

* Alas, she wasn't like some goth version of the Tulip Queen. We gather from Scott's account -- and from photos -- it was more like a Titania/fairy queen/Cinderella sort of thing. Though there was a story in 1905 of an Albany Halloween carnival queen later being the target of allegedly poisoned Christmas candy, perhaps out of jealousy over the attentions of the Halloween king. (Which sort of sounds like the plot of Buffy episode or something.) The story got picked up in newspapers as far as California and Texas.

** The crowd in 1905 was said to be 50,000 people.

Comments

Looks like this postcard in newyorkheritage.org from the Albany Institute of History and Art is from the same carnival. I wonder if they have more in their library?

http://cdm16694.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/aiha/id/44

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