Originally created 03/09/06

Do you remember Fantastics Parades?

The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area is looking for area residents who have fantastic memories.

The organization received a Save Our History grant from the History Channel to join with John Milledge Elementary School in creating oral histories of the Fantastics Parade, a Fourth of July tradition in the Harrisburg area of Augusta in the early 1900s, said Rebecca Rogers, the marketing director.

She said the organization is seeking people who remember the event. People with memories of or stories about the parade should contact Ms. Rogers at the heritage area by Friday, March 17.

"The Fantastics Parade wasn't a formal parade where they all lined up in units and marched. Groups of children would gather at different neighborhood houses and get all (dressed) up in costumes and, when it was time, they'd go around the neighborhood, kind of like Halloween," she said. "It was more like a promenade, not a parade, so you could show your silly costumes to your neighbors and friends."

Ms. Rogers said the parade might date back to the Civil War, but she is not sure when it began or ended.

"People who were children in the 1930s and '40s should definitely remember, but it probably started well before that," she said.

The children's costumes included masks made of dough and clothes stuffed with pillows, Ms. Rogers said. She thinks the event was held on July 4 because that was the week of summer vacation for many residents who worked at nearby mills.

"I'm not expert; I may be wrong, so we're looking for people who had memories of this," she said.

Ms. Rogers said students from John S. Davidson Fine Arts School will assist John Milledge fourth and fifth-graders in interviewing people who remember the parade. The pupils also will make costumes for a re-enactment of the Fantastics Parade in Harrisburg in April, she said.

"Part of the excitement of gathering oral history is the detective work," she said. "We want the next generation of children to get excited about their history and realize how important it is to preserve it."

She said she is hoping to find people who have memorabilia or stories related to the parade.

"If they remember taking part in this as a child and/or have any photos, perhaps even remnants of their costumes, we'd like to know who they are. I look forward to talking to them," Ms. Rogers said.

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.

What's next

Pupils from John Milledge Elementary school want to interview area residents who remember the Fantastics Parades. For more information, call 823-0440, ext. 3.


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