Here comes Athena! : a representation of Kansas City in the Priests of Pallas Parade
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This exhibition examines the historical significance of the Priests of Pallas Parade and Ball, a tableaux style parade and carnival event that took place in Kansas City, Missouri, predominantly from 1887 to 1911. Organized by the town's wealthy business leaders, the celebration was a means by which they attracted tourism and increased profit that, in turn, helped the city grow. Additionally, the event was an important vehicle used to visually and publicly define and reinforce the social hierarchy existing in Kansas City at the turn of the twentieth century. Historians have studied nineteenth century public street parades as a whole, particularly focusing on their purpose in society and how they were utilized, but little scholarly attention has been given to Kansas City and even less attention, if any, has been given to the Priests of Pallas. Examining newspaper sources, ephemera, photographic and other visual media maintained by area manuscript collections and libraries, the celebration has been thoroughly explored and contextualized in Kansas City's history and the larger American narrative in this exhibit. Beginning with an overview of the history of Kansas City, Missouri, from its incorporation in 1850 to the 1880's, this exhibit moves forward to discuss the environment in which the Priests of Pallas Parade began and the motivations of its organizers, and presents details regarding the first parade, occurring in 1887. Leading into a discussion of the class construction of Kansas City as evidenced by the parade, visitors progress to the gendered and racial analysis of the event and the manner in which it reflected national trends of the time period. The exhibit provides viewers an understanding of the role the celebration played in the formation of Kansas City's identity at the turn of the twentieth century and concludes with details regarding the decline and eventual discontinuation of the Priests of Pallas Parade.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- The young Kansas City -- Birth of the Priests -- Athena's arrival -- An all exclusive goddess -- Impersonator, goddess, debutante -- Her divided subjects -- Bringing Athena up to date -- Pallas had her critics -- The parade starts to decline -- Conclusion -- Endnotes -- Bibliography -- Vita