[Mardi Gras-like Parade Floats:] Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, The Drama, Omaha, September 29 to October 9. [cover title]
1909 Souvenir program for the fifteenth annual Autumn parade of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, a philanthropic group founded to save the Nebraska State Fair from less-than-wholesome attractions. The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben deliberately modeled their parade—with its floats and kings—on the annual Mardi Gras parades held in New Orleans. Their mysterious Middle Eastern-like name is “Nebraska” spelled backwards.
The theme of the 1909 Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben parade was “The World’s a Stage,” a tribute to popular dramas and the plays of William Shakespeare. Full-page illustrations depict 20 elaborate parade floats made by the Knights, culminating in the regal New Orleans manner with the arrival of “His Majesty King Ak-Sar-ben XV.”
The floats, depicting fanciful scenes from 19th century literary works, are titled “Alice in Wonderland” (Carroll); “Rip Van Winkle” (Irving); “Prince of India” and “Ben Hur” (Lew Wallace); “Monte Christo” (Dumas père); “The Mikado” (Gilbert & Sullivan), “The Wizard of Oz” (Baum); etc. Other floats include “The Sultan of Sulu,” “The Prince of Pilsen,” “Buster Brown,” and “Texas Steer.” Shakespearean floats celebrate such plays as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Midsummer Nights Dream,” “Julius Caesar,” “Richard III,” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”
With numerous ads for Omaha businesses and portraits of the parade’s Board of Governors. The 1909 celebration culminated with two parades, each with a special route: a “Grand Entry in State of His Majesty, Ak-Sar-Ben XV and Royal Escort with Electric Pageantry” and a military parade the following day.
Description: [Mardi Gras-like Parade Floats:] Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, The Drama, Omaha, September 29 to October 9. [cover title]
Omaha: Burkley Printing Co., . pp. Oblong Pamphlet. 6 x 9 inches. Illustrated wrappers; stapled. Halftone illustrations; ads. Vertical center fold; some wear and toning to wrappers; very good.
Unrecorded in OCLC. Records in leading Nebraska libraries are unclear as to specific annual holdings.