“All will sing; all will pass in solemn procession up the street where Lafayette once passed himself when he was the guest of the city of Burlington; all will lay flowers before the statue which is the symbol of freedom-loving, freedom-giving France; all will join in adopting a message of gratitude to France.” —Burlington Free Press, July 8, 1918
In early July 1918, Burlington Mayor J. Holmes Jackson assembled a committee to plan a Bastille Day celebration. The Burlington Free Press reported the committee’s plans in detail and encouraged everyone to participate. Photographer L.L. McAllister was on hand to document the crowd with his panoramic camera.
According to the Free Press, the committee believed Burlington should recognize Bastille Day for a number of reasons, including the region’s association with French history, the many Burlington citizens with French heritage, and the memories of French General Lafayette’s visit to the city in June 1825. Most importantly, the committee wanted to pay tribute to France for its “defense of freedom and civilization” during the long years of World War 1.
The celebration started with musical exercises in City Hall Park. Following a short concert by Sherman’s band, community members sang French and American patriotic songs. It has been estimated that McAllister’s photograph of the crowd gathered in City Hall Park shows 1400-1500 people. Only the central portion of the 40.5 inch-long panorama is shown above. Sherman’s band is visible in the bandstand behind the crowd.
Then a procession marched up College Street to UVM’s College Green to lay flowers–from field and garden–at the base of the Lafayette memorial in front of the University of Vermont’s Old Mill building. Women holding flowers for the tribute can be seen at either side of the McAllister photo. A chorus sang French and American songs as the procession passed the monument.
Contributed by Prudence Doherty,
Public Services Librarian