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Why We Love Parades: Their History and Enduring Appeal

Why do millions of people attend the victory parades of winning sports teams, travel across the world to attend a carnival, march and chant for social justice, cheer homecoming soldiers, or watch enraptured as a princess or celebrity rides in a stately coach to their wedding? The author answers these questions and more in this unique examination of the great parades and processions of history. Part chronology, part social history, this book outlines why parades are more than the simplistic, ephemeral entertainment we sometimes assume them to be, as people are often deeply affected by regalia, costumes and uniforms, dances and floats. The book traces the fascinating origins and development of carnival parades, religious processions, protest marches, victory parades, circus parades, parade floats, ship sail-pasts and aerial fly-pasts.

Testimonials for Why We Love Parades

Arnoud H. Stryd, Anthropologist

Written in an accessible scholarly style, this thought-provoking book will be of interest not only to anthropologist, historians, psychologists, and other academics, but also to the general reader... Why We Love Parades is an all-encompassing work, thoroughly researched, backed up by relevant citations, and enriched by frequent illustrations... Matthews converts his passion for parades into a well-organized examination of their origins, organization, diversity, and meaning. He presents so many examples from different parts of the world, and from different times, and he does not shy away from giving his opinions, making a convincing case for parades as both a mirror and shaper of society. For those who love a parade (and who doesn't?), this book is a most engaging and enjoyable read.

Julie H. Ferguson, Author and Writing Coach

Why We Love Parades is filled with wonderful descriptions of parades from the earliest days of the Egyptians, Alexander the Great, and on up to the Rose Parade of the present day, and includes protests and even air displays. Fully illustrated and a most enjoyable read, author Doug Matthews has written a book that is a tour de force! The amount of research he has done over at least 15 years means that Why We Love Parades will always be a valued reference book for historians and anthropologists, for those who organize and sponsor parades, and for special events producers... Matthews has a comfortable writing style that is fun and accessible to all. He is not afraid to give his opinions either. Highly recommended.

Sonny Wong, Entrepreneur

Matthews' new book on parades takes on the subject with the pomp and ceremony it deserves... He has combined his extensive knowledge of special events with a love of travel that has resulted in a work that is culturally inclusive, and refreshingly so. His explanations on the meaning of parades, both historical and modern, from the perspective of a myriad of global cultures, are remarkable and to be celebrated. Bravo!

Catharine Fast, Rose Parade Volunteer

This meticulously researched, heavily foot-noted work brings academic rigor to a subject most would regard as ephemeral entertainment. Matthews examines the various iterations of parades through the lens of ritual and studies how both participants and spectators are drawn into the spectacle, symbolism and sense of community created. We go back in time to Alexander the Great’s triumphant march into Babylon in 331 BC all the way to the more recent history and evolution of Gay Pride parades and Black Lives Matter protests. The book is an interesting and easy read and provides fascinating information and insights on a topic not generally considered worthy of serious study. 

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