Horribles Parade

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Salem is one of a handful of New England towns and cities who have the annual tradition of the "Horribles Parade" on July 4th. The cities of Needham, Danvers, Beverly, Peabody, Salem and Gloucester all have this annual parade, part patriotism, part parody. In Salem, the neighborhood that hosts this parade is the Salem Willows.

The idea began in the 1850's when militia companies had uniforms which had been embellished to the point of absurdity. They also snobbishly limited members to the social elite only and felt overly important in general. These parades became a way of poking fun at these "overdressed rich boys playing soldier" according to Diana Applebaum in a Yankee magazine article.

Using parody language, Ancient and Honorable became "Antique" and "Horrible". Parade goers used this to make fun of local politics, and politicians as well. This tradition continues, with groups vying for awards of funniest or best float every fourth of July.

See Also

"Horribles Parade" (Only in New England) by Diane K. Appelbaum. Yankee Magazine.

The Horribles Parade: a brief history of U.S. Satire Beverly Patch