Granite State Stories: Coach parades decorate the White Mountains

  • “Coaching Parade Passing the Sinclair (Hotel), Bethlehem” and under the evergreen arch erected by the hotel’s guests for the occasion; engraving by F. A. Ringler Company, New York, published in the “White Mountain Echo,” Aug. 29, 1891. Courtesy of N.H. Historical Society

Published: 8/17/2018 11:38:46 AM

On Aug. 27, 1887, a line of almost 30 hotel coaches, elaborately decorated with flowers, greenery, bunting and streamers, paraded through the tourist town of Bethlehem, pulled by teams of matching horses.

Organized by the owners and guests of the Maplewood Hotel, the parade was such a success that it quickly became an annual event marking the high point of the summer season, and North Conway followed suit with its own parade just a few years later.

The spectacle drew up to 10,000 visitors each year, filling hotel rooms during the traditionally slow final weeks of the summer season. The parades received attention from newspapers as far away as Kansas and Idaho, and towns in tourist areas across the country quickly began to imitate them.

The Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., which began in 1890, is thought to be inspired by White Mountain coach parades.

N.H. Historical Society

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