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About the Parade

The History of theParade

The first Veiled Prophet Parade took place on October 8, 1878. It was sponsored by the Veiled Prophet Organization, a group of civic-minded businessmen who wanted to promote the City of St. Louis.


The first parade was modeled after the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebration. In the early years, floats from New Orleans were shipped to St. Louis by steamboat. Today’s imaginative and colorful floats are conceived and created by artists and craftsmen employed by the Veiled Prophet Organization.


Many changes have occurred since 1878, but one thing remains the same - the Veiled Prophet Organization continues to bestow its largest gift to the community in the form of a spectacular parade for the children of St. Louis and continues to be one of the world’s most elaborate float–building operations.


The annual Veiled Prophet Parade continues as one of St. Louis’s most enduring family traditions.  This celebration is now being shared with the entire Country as America's Birthday Parade.  

Fun Facts

  • The first Parade was held at night and was changed to a daytime parade in 1969.

  • The first floats were purchased by a group of prominent St. Louis businessmen lead by Charles Slayback for $8,000 from the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras.  They were brought to St. Louis by steamboat on the Mississippi River.

  • The original floats were illuminated by 1,000 torch lights in addition to hundreds of lanterns. Starting in 1903, the floats were illuminated by electric power from the Street Rail System.

  • The original Parade was the highlight of the early October Agricultural Fair which brought out-state visitors to St. Louis.

  • Floats were originally horse-drawn and later pulled by tractors. Today, pickup trucks are decorated to match the float they were pulling.

  • Many of the floats are now self-propelled and have a driver that is barely visible to viewers.

  • Nationally known artists have designed floats: Oscar Berninghaus from 1929 to 1941; Frank Nuderscher from 1945 to 1954; Fred Conway from 1955 to 1963 and Charles Morganthuler from 1964 to 1966.

  • Attendance at the first parade was estimated at around 50,000. By 1930, this number had grown to 375,000.

  • In 2016, the Parade began to be televised in multiple television markets throughout the Country.  In 2016, the Parade was broadcast to over 15 Million households.

  • High school marching bands play a major role in the Parade. Today high school bands from all over the Midwest compete in The Liberty Drum Challenge for more than $10,000 in prizes.

  • Over 300 professionally-choreographed performers and entertainers in America's Birthday Parade and each year more entertainment is added!

  • The tie between the Parade and the Veiled Prophet Ball goes back to the first year 1878 - when the Parade and the Ball occurred on the same night. In the early years, the entire Krewe appeared in costume at the Ball, later dancing with the Maids and Ladies of Honor.

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