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Cadillaqua – 1912

We’re looking across the river today to feature the huge festival that took place in 1912 for Detroit’s 211th birthday – The Cadillaqua festival.

The festival was so big that articles about it appeared in the New York Times.

This one ran June 23, 1912:


Land and Water Carnival Begins July 22 to Mark the City’s 211th Anniversary.


Yacht Races, Rowing, and Swimming Contests and Historical Pageant Are to be the Features

The city of Detroit is preparing to celebrate its two hundred and eleventh anniversary with a monster land and water carnival, beginning July 22 and continuing four days and five nights. The carnival on which $200,000 is to be expended is to be made an annual event. More than 10,000 persons are to take part in it.

The carnival is to be called Cadillaqua in honor of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the French soldier of fortune, who with a few friendly Indians and settlers left Quebec in a fleet of canoes, and founded in the year 1701 the settlement which grew into the present city of Detroit.

The idea of holding the carnival began with the Detroit Board of Commerce, and the Cadillaqua, which now has a membership of 6,000 business and professional men of Detroit, was organized to advance the project. For many months the members of the Cad-illaqua have worked over the details of the celebration. They hope to make it the biggest festival of the kind ever held in this country.

It is the firm belief of Detroiters that no place In America is so well adapted by nature for a water carnival as their city. The Detroit River, one of the most traveled waterways in North America, Is really the main street of the town, and is as much a part of Detroit as Broadway is of New York. On this river part of the water carnival will be held; the rest will be held on the canals of Belle Isle and on Lake St. Clair.

In the hope of making their city the future water-sports centre of America the Detroiters have planned for an extensive series of aquatic sports. Hydroplanes and displacement motor-boats which hold records in their particular classes have been entered in competitions. One of the few hydroaeroplanes in existence will give exhibition races with the swiftest water craft. There are also to be races between seventy and one hundred sailing yachts. The races will be held over a triangular course. The most famous swimmers in the country will compete in swimming and other aquatic contests. Eight-oared shells, single sculls, four-oared canoes. Indian canoes, and the paddling canoes of Canada and the St. Lawrence will be seen in races.

The last night of the celebration there will be held on the canals of Belle Isle one of the largest canoe carnivals attempted. There will be 8,000 decorated canoes in the carnival.

The land events will begin with a great historical pageant depicting the voyage of Cadillac, and his landing in Detroit. More than 4,000 persons wearing the costume of the period are to take part in the pageant. Cadillac and his companions will first be seen resting in their camp along the St. Clair River. As Cadillac completes his voyage he will be met by a fleet of vessels. The fleet will be made up of several United States revenue cutters, six naval reserve vessels, and many private yachts. Gov. Osborn and his staff will be aboard the flagship of the fleet. Cadillac will be taken aboard a yacht, and escorted to the foot of Third Street by the fleet.

On setting foot in Detroit he will be met by United States regulars from Fort Wayne, the Essex Fusiliers of Canada, the State militia, and marines from the United States revenue cutters and the naval reserves, who will escort him to Grand Circus Park. He will be met at the park by a tribe of Indians, the Chief of which will present him with a pipe of peace. He will then be formally received by the Governor of the State, the Mayor and the city officials.

There are to be several parades during the carnival. There is to be a parade at night in which the most striking histor¬ical events of Detroit’s history in the past half century will be portrayed.

Many large floats brilliantly lighted by electricity will portray these events. There is also to be held an industrial pa¬rade, with floats representing the progress of the various manufacturing and mercantile interests of the city. In an automobile parade 8,000 motor cars will be seen. Of these cars forty will form a special section of suffragettes. Detroiters boast that today 62 per cent, of all of the motor cars made In America are built in Detroit, and they hope to show by this parade the supremacy of their city as a manufacturing motor car centre.

It is planned next year to combine Cadillaqua and the Perry centennial celebration Into the largest water celebration ever held In this country.

There was also this article about the Automoblie Parade that ran in the New York Times July 7, 1912.

All Records to be Eclipsed by Parade in Detroit

A great automobile parade is to be held in Detroit during the last week of July, as one of the features of the great Cadillaqua celebration which is destined to become a yearly event. In this parade more cars will have been assembled in one place than ever before in the history of the automobile Indusitry. It is estimated that more than $25,000,000 worth of machines will take part in this procession, headed by a “Detroiter” car donated by the Briggs-Detroiter Co. as a prize to the individual who secures the greatest number of subiscriptions to the Cadillaqua fund. Beihind this car will follow thousands upon thousands of others, making a processiion miles in length – which will require several hours to pass any given point.
It has been estimated that when the parade is over the speedometers of the various cars will have added an average of 103,000 miles. To make this journey 5,000 gallons of gasoline and the equivailent of twenty complete sets of tires will be used by the automobiles.

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