In the summer of July 1886, Samuel Clemens and his family attended a family reunion with his brother Orion Clemens and his mother Jane in Keokuk, Iowa. Keokuk is located about 45 miles north of Clemens's boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. While in Keokuk, Clemens was called upon to participate in the local Independence Day celebration with was held on Saturday, July 3. The following report of the festivities appeared in the local newspaper.
How the Day was Celebrated in Keokuk Saturday.
A Large Display of Bunting All Over the City.
An Industrial Parade on Main Street in the Forenoon.
The Exercises at Rand Park in the Afternoon.
Good Music, Able Addresses and Orations.
A Pyrotechnic Display at Rand Park Closes the Day.
Keokuk celebrated the Fourth of July this year on Saturday [July 3], and the occasion was taken advantage of by our home people. The day opened bright and clear, and continued so throughout the day, although the temperature was not as it generally is. Early I the day people began coming in from the neighborhood. Reception committee met the visitors on their arrival at the stations. The public buildings and business houses were decorated, as were quite a number of private residences. Red, white and blue bunting, bearing the inscription "1776 Welcome. 1886" hung across Main street, at Fifth and Seventh, while the street was a mass of flags and bunting along the entire length. The day was
By the ringing of bells and firing of a salute of thirteen guns at sunrise.
THE INDUSTRIAL PARADE.
The industrial parade formed on Second and Main streets and a few minutes after 11 o'clock moved out Main to Fourteenth and t hence back to Second under direction of W. S. Sample, chief marshal, and Dr. J. C. Hughes, and Chas. F. Riffley, aides.
The procession was witnessed by several thousand of our people. T he shoe department of the Enterprise was represented by the old woman who lived in the shoe, whose numerous progeny appeared from all sides of an enormous shoe. On Fred. Dorr's float were a number of boys and girls eating ice cream.
A display of Japanese day fireworks at Sixth and Main streets wound up the programme for the morning.
AT RAND PARK.
Several thousand people visited our beautiful Rand park during the day. The park was never so attractive as it is now, and the animals and birds have all comfortable quarters. Mark Twain was undoubtedly one of the attractions at the park, ranking well up with the bear. He was attired in an entire suite of white duck, with tall white hat, and on his appearance a murmur of "There he is," passed through the crowd, and people edged up to gt a closer view of the great humorist.
The exercises at the grand stand at the park opened promptly at 2 o'clock with a selection by the Second Regiment band entitled "Robin Adair," with variations, and with cornet solo by Prof. Gus Wittich. Hon. Gibson Browne, president of the day, then called the meeting to order and prayer was offered by Rev. R. C. McIlwain, rector of St. John's Episcopal church. This was followed by music by the Second Regiment band-an overture, "Rivals"--followed by the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Orion Clemens, Esq. The Keokuk Military band then rendered an overture entitled "Brilliant," with saxophone solo by Prof. John Kindig.
Hon. Thomas Hedge, Jr., of Burlington, the orator of the day was then introduced by Mr. Browne and spoke for thirty minutes, delivering one of the best addresses that has been given here on a pubic occasion. At the close he was heartily applauded.
Samuel L. Clemens was then introduced and his appearance was the signal for applause. His remarks were in substance as follows:
Mr. Clemens's remarks were frequently interrupted by laughter at his inimitable manner and the drollery of his utterance, and he closed amid laughter and applause.
The Keokuk Military band then gave a serenade, "Pleasant dreams," after which the audience was dismissed with the benediction by Rev. T. H. Cleland, pastor of the First Westminster Presbyterian church.
At the conclusion of the exercise at the park, many people returned to Main street, where the climbing of the greased pole, wheelbarrow and sack races and lap race took place, and where some paper balloons were sent up.
The day's entertainment closed with a pyrotechnic display at Rand park at night, which was witnessed by a large concourse of people.
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