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  Veiled Prophet Celebration begins
Brief Description:  Afer the Civil War, Alonzo Slayback, a colonel in the war, and his brother, Charles, a wealthy grain operator in New Orleans who moved to St. Louis, became very active in developing the St. Louis economy. With his New Orleans background, Charles drew on his Mardi Gras experience to try and attract more tourists to St. Louis. At the time, the annual Mechanical and Agricultural Fair was the City´s big social event. Part of its attraction was honoring young women in its "Court of Love and Beauty". However, these ladies´ names were kept secret. The Slayback brothers, along with 20 other leading citizens, formed a committee to provide a similar concept, but one with the names of the young women made public. It also included ladies with a non-union, more elite background. This organization became known as the "Order of the Veiled Prophet." The first arrival of the Veiled Prophet was on October 8, 1878. He came by barge and landed on the St. Louis riverfront, with thousands of people lined up to watch. There was a large parade with bands, floats and exploding rockets. Riding the floats were the hooded members of the Order of the Veiled Prophet, whose identities were kept secret for 50 years. (The first prophet was John G. Priest.) Following the parade, a ball was held, with thousands of invitations sent out. During the ball, the Veiled Prophet would crown a queen and special maids of honor , which included the daughters of prominent citizens. Over the years, the importance of the Veiled Prophet Parade and Ball has diminished. Attendance declined during the 1960s and 1970s, in part due to the protests of many civil rights groups who felt it was a "wasteful consumption of taxpayers money." In the 1980s, the City´s annual Fourth of July riverfront celebration began as the VP Fair. More recently, it has bene renamed Fair St. Louis. The Veiled Prophet Parade still continues to be held as well as the ball, but on a smaller scale. [http://www.usgennet.org/usa/mo/county/stlouis/vp.htm]
Year:  1878
Decade:  1870 - 1879
Beginning Date:     Oct. 08, 1878

Slayback, Alonzo W.



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