San Francisco History

Paper Carnival

Henry John Harrison at the Paper Carnival (October 1887)A GRAND OPENING. Sweet Charity Calls all Countries and Climes to its Aid.

One of the most brilliant pageants ever shown the people of San Francisco "for sweet charity's sake" or for any other object was the one presented at the Mechanics' Pavilion last night inaugurating the grand Paper Carnival for the benefit of the Old Ladies' Home and the missionary work of the Church of the Advent.

About 1,000 persons participated in the grand march and the spectacle presented was of such a beautiful nature that all criticism was lost in the universal hum of admiration that ran through the large audience.


Preceding the "Grand March," the Roman Legion, under the command of Captain Cook, gave a series of military evolutions of the nature of a Knight Templar's drill, and their movements were excellently done.

After the march of the Legionaries the signal for the grand march was given by the Rev. Mr. Gray by three taps on the big bell. The Grand Chamberlain, C.H. Dillon, waved his staff and the first division, preceded by the First Regiment Band and the Roman Legion, who acted as a guard of honor, marched from the southwest corner of the hall to the main floor.

The Grand Chamberlain, who wore a combination suit representing the different epochs from the time of Charles the First to that of of the Native Sons of the Golden West, headed the division.

Following the Grand Chamberlain came a cortege representing the triumphal entry of Caesar Augustus into Rome. Caesar was personated by Robert White, who also designed and constructed the triumphal car, which was a very gorgeous affair. Behind Caesar, holding the Roman civic crown over his head, was Victory (Miss Nellie Morse), who made a beautiful picture, being clothed in white, with her hair flowing free.

Caesar was surrounded by all the accessories of an ancient triumph.Immediately behind his chariot was Cleopatra Miss F. White), who was attended by three fan-bearers.

The second division, which comprised all the known Greek mythological characters, was another gorgeous spectacle.

The third division was made up of different characters, representing various periods and countries, and had in its ranks Penelope and maidens, priestesses, the Houris, Grecian nymphs, flute-players, women of rank and monarchs of Arcadia, with attendants.

The fourth division was very gorgeous, and comprising, as it did, such characters as Queen Clotilda, Charlemagne, Queen Charlotte and Anne of Brittany, with their ladies of court and attendant courtiers and pages.

The fifth, sixth and seventh divisions were bunched together and made one large one.

It was headed by two diminutive couples representing Tom Thumb and wife and Commodore Nutt and wife, and the way the little folks marched in tune with the music elicited a round of applause from the audience. Following the pigmies were groups of children with flowers, and Mother Goose (Miss May Mercardo) on a car, attended by children. After the children came Columbia (Miss Forbes), with California and Nevada, the four seasons, milkmaids, reapers, and representations of birds, ants, flies and butterflies.

The eighth division was headed by the representatives of the Land of the Rising Sun, and the Mikado group caused considerable laughter and remark among a group of officers from the Japanese war-ship, who were present and stood in open-mounted wonder all through the evening.

A number of peasants bearing the fruits of all climes and all countries followed and the end of the of the procession was brought up by the contingent from the Flowery Kingdom, who had a big dragon with which they managed to frighten half of the smaller children out of the procession.

After the divisions were all on the floor a number of evolutions were performed, and by the help of different colored reflectors from the strong calcium lights at each end of the hall it was made one of the most brilliant spectacles one would wish to see, resembling a grand tableau from a fairy tale with all the world for a subject.

Source: San Francisco Examiner. 29 October 1887. Picture of Henry John Harrison used by permission of Alex Luck.

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