The first Parade was on October 8, 1878 and was held at night; in 1969 it was changed to day.
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 up the Mississippi River.
Originally, the 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.
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.
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.
During the first year in 1878, attendance was estimated at around 50,000. By 1930, this number had grown to 375,000, and, in 1967 to 500,000.
The 2016 Parade will be broadcasted in multiple television markets throughout the country.
Floats were originally horse-drawn and later pulled by tractors, Chevy Blazers and Pickups decorated to match the float they were pulling.
Today many of the floats are self-propelled and have a driver that is barely visible to viewers.
The Parade has a history of embracing High school marching bands having them play a major role in the Parade, and today high school bands from all over the Midwest compete for more than $10,000 in prizes.
Today there are over 300 performers and entertainers in America's Biggest Birthday Parade and each year more entertainment is added!