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Excerpts from the Book Everyone Loves a Parade!

Monday, December 9, 1957

Sultan Mohammed V was named King of Morocco in April 1957, and later that year travelled to New York with four of his children to speak at the United Nations, and the city planned a ticker tape parade in his honor.


The timing, however, was terrible. The weather was less than ideal for a parade: temperatures were dropping into the low 40s, and the light drizzle that had begun the previous day was expected to intensify. To make matters worse, the city’s subways were shut due to a strike by motormen, and much of the police force that was supposed to provide security for the parade had to be re-assigned for duty at the city’s major transportation centers, including Penn Station and the Grand Central Terminal.

Soon after King Mohammed ended his UN speech, he was informed that Richard Patterson, Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Public Events, had officially cancelled the parade, but the other events planned for the day would occur as scheduled. 

King Mohammed V of Morocco_edited.jpg

Tuesday, November 18, 1919

Prnce of Wales.jpeg

The Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne, Edward Albert George Andrew Patrick David, arrived in Jersey City by train. The handsome 25-year-old Prince made New York City the last stop during his goodwill visit to the United States. With the first anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War in Western Europe a week past, the Prince was visiting a number of Allied nations in gratitude for assisting in the defeat of Germany, in keeping with the wishes of his father, King George V.

There had been death threats and rumors of assassination from anti-British groups prior to the prince’s arrival. As a precaution extra police were assigned to duty for the Prince’s protection.  Mayor Hylan had been against offering an official reception to the Prince, partly out of concern for his security, but also because of the Mayor’s personal pro-Irish, anti-English views. He had been persuaded to extend the welcome only days before at a meeting in the office of Grover Whalen, chosen to be the city’s host to the Prince. The meeting was attended by State Department officials, and representatives from Buckingham Palace, Scotland Yard, and the New York Police Department.

The city’s plans, formulated and organized by Mr. Whalen, were for the welcome to be on a scale unlike previous parades, and two major decisions were reached that would not only make the Prince’s welcome more memorable, but also shape the future of ticker tape parades.

Grover Whalen

Born to immigrant parents in 1886, Grover Whalen worked in advertising at Wanamaker’s Department store on Broadway and Ninth Street. Whalen volunteered with the 1918 mayoral campaign of John Hylan. After Hylan won the election, Wanamaker gave Whalen a sabbatical from the store to work as the Mayor’s secretary. In that role, he helped run the newly formed Mayor’s Committee for the Reception of Distinguished Guests, and helped organize the logistics for the parades after the end of World War I. Within 10 weeks in autumn 1919, New York would be visited by General Pershing, the King and Queen of Belgium, and the Prince of Wales. As heir to the British throne, the last name on that list posed a potential challenge in a city with many Irish immigrants and for the mayor himself, who was proud of his Irish ancestry. After helping convince the Mayor that the City had to hold a reception to welcome the Prince, Whalen realized the event needed to be spectacular. 


A tireless civil servant, Grover Whalen was also the man largely responsible for the 1939 World’s Fair, serving as president of the organization that coordinated that event. He also served on the board of the Advertising Club of New York, using the dining facility in the organization’s building to host luncheons for many dignitaries after a ticker tape parade. 


Though he himself never received a ticker tape parade, he attended more of them than any other person. In 1950, he was given the city’s Gold Medal by Mayor O’Dwyer, who cited Whalen’s “30 years of extraordinary public service to various Mayors as a volunteer creator of goodwill towards the city.” In its front-page obituary, the New York Times noted that “in addition to establishing the ticker tape blizzard as a symbol of New York’s welcome to the great and near-great, Whalen gained a reputation as a persuasive salesman.”

Grover Whalen.jpeg
Grover Whalen
Prince of Wales
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