President William McKinley and his wife take part in the parade of the Fiesta de las Flores in Los Angeles, in May of 1901. One report estimates 20,000 roses adorned the float.
McKinley arrived on the 8th, and it’s likely the parade took place on the 9th. A Metropolitan News-Enterprise article from 2007 recounts the President’s visit from news reports at the time:
“The approach to the city of Los Angeles was heralded by a terrific din which could be heard for miles. Steam whistles screamed, cannon boomed and as the train passed through the Chinese quarter of the city long strings of firecrackers hung from awnings exploded like the continuous rattle of musketry.”According to the Historical Society of Southern California:
Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the train pulled into the Arcade Depot at Fifth Street and Central Avenue. Alighting from it was the president of the United States, William McKinley, along with his entourage.
They made their entrance “[a]mid the blowing of whistles and shouts of welcome from thousands of people,” as the Los Angeles Evening Express’ edition that night recites. The account adds that the shouting and cheering was “heard all over the downtown district.”
An editorial in that edition remarks that “Southern Californians have been counting time by months, by weeks, by days, by hours and finally by minutes in anticipation of greeting” the president.
The Fiesta de las Flores was a later embodiment of the Fiesta de Los Angeles which had been cancelled for three years due to insecurities about its Spanish character during the Spanish-American War.Photo via the Center for Southwest Research, William A. Keleher Collection University Libraries, University of New Mexico
Like the Fiesta de Los Angeles, the celebration was meant to attract tourists and stimulate commerce for the city of Los Angeles and the surrounding communities, but its themes focused less on California’s Spanish Colonial past and highlighted its more contemporary and patriotic attributes. The first Fiesta de las Flores coincided with President William McKinley’s visit to Los Angeles in 1901.
Top headline from the Los Angeles Herald, May 10, 1901, via the California Digital Newspaper Collection
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