The first Veiled Prophet Parade took place on October 8, 1878, and 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 on 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, one of the world’s most elaborate float–building operations.
In addition to continuing one of the oldest parades in the nation, the Veiled Prophet Organization has also provided funding for the new Grand Staircase, connecting the Gateway Arch with the riverfront, the Overlook Stage on Wharf Street and the lighting of Eads Bridge. And, Veiled Prophet members and their families provide community service through a number local agencies including Habitat for Humanity, the St. Louis Public Schools, Operation Brightside, and the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club.
Today the Veiled Prophet Organization continues to bestow its largest gift to the community in the form of a parade for the children of St. Louis. Many changes have occurred since 1878, but one thing remains the same, America's Biggest Birthday Parade. The annual Veiled Prophet Parade continues as one of St. Louis’s most enduring family traditions.