Back in the late 1990’s I was working at the Arden Archives (which had not yet become a museum) and I was mesmerized by the collection of old photographs of early Arden and Ardenites. I was particularly taken with the images of the Medieval Pageant that the town’s folk put on in 1910 & 11 and I imagined how much fun it would be to reenact (in a new form) the same idea for Arden’s Centennial. I pondered how it could be done and started by finding someone with horses to lead the pageant (as seen in the old photo).
So it began. A small committee got together and brainstormed the idea and worked to make it happen. The Centennial Pageant grew and grew. We decided that participants could dress in any era of clothing they chose, from medieval to contemporary. On the day of the pageant, May 20, 2000, it was so exciting to see and feel the excitement of the crowd as they came and joined the line. Everyone came in costumes, with animals, with acts, and musical instruments of all sorts, including those lusty horns! Each group carried colorful hand made banners as they marched down Cherry Lane, while cheerfully moving to the lyrical music. They were dressed as everything from women suffragettes to jesters, dragons, Lords and ladies, Fairies and even 1960’s hippies.
Everyone marched around the green and then under a “You Are Welcome Hither” banner onto the field where the crowd was regaled by an equestrienne demonstration, followed by a beautiful Maypole dance with minstrels. Then, King George and I stood up on a podium in front of the crowd and George read the proclamations for opening of Arden’s Centennial festivities. Signs reading: Lusty Horns, or Lusty Cheers were held up during George’s speech and the crowd roared and horns sounded each time! The day’s program included a series of short programs; Gilbert and Sullivan singing a medley of turn of the century songs, a Young Actor’s Shakespearean scene from Romeo and Juliet, Folk Dancing, Tai Chi, Music by Buzz Ware Coffee House Crew, driving Miss Topey dog tricks, a Sleeping Beauty trunk show and much much more.
A good time was had by all, in spite of the rain. Afterward, we all went home to get dry and warm before going to the evening’s Medieval Banquet at the Gild Hall.
But that’s another story.
See images of the 1911 pageant and other historic images online at: http://www.ardencraftshopmuseum.com/photographic-collection.html
- Lady Sadie