Carnival King and Queen at Hampton Beach - 1920s

By John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

Airplane on the sand
Here is a typical "Aeroplane" on the sand at Hampton Beach in the early 1920's.
"Aeroplane" rides were popular on the beach in the 1920's and 30's. One such plane was a Curtiss Jenny training biplane of WWI vintage, powered by a Curtiss OX-5 water cooled engine. In addition to airplane rides, there were flying demonstrations and parachute jumps during the summer season.

HAMPTON BEACH -- "The lucky girl who turns in the most numbered votes will be crowned Queen of Carnival. She will choose her King and in royal splendor ascend her throne on Mardi Gras night. An exquisite wrist watch, a ride in the aeroplane and the attendant homage of the multitude will be hers." This is the way it was written in the 6th annual Hampton Beach Carnival souvenir program of 1920 which was under the auspices of the Hampton and Hampton Beach Board of Trade, the forerunner of the present Hampton Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The Board of Trade was formally organized in 1915 for the purpose of conducting the first Hampton Beach Carnival.

The Carnival Week ran from Labor Day, September 6 to the 12th and as the program states, "The Amusement Spot of New England, where everybody goes." According to the souvenir program of the 7th annual Carnival Week of 1921, the young lady who sells the most "programmes" (at 10 cents each) will be made Carnival Queen and the young man who sells the most, will be Carnival King.

A typical day in Carnival Week during the season of 1921 was "Coronation Day" on Saturday, September 10th, beginning at 10:30 in the morning with the aeroplane exhibition flights, followed at 11 o'clock with the Japanese daylight fireworks display.

At 2 o'clock. came the traditional baseball game behind the Casino in the ball field. A second band concert took place at 4 p.m. and the huge stage show went on at 4:15.

"Dare Devil" Van Norman performed in front of the Casino at 4:55 and a third band concert started off the evenings festivities at 7:30. The spectacular Coronation Pageant Parade started at 7:45 with the final event of the day at 8 o'clock, the Coronation of the Carnival Queen and King.

Prizes were awarded to entries in the parade in three classes, beautiful costumes, original costumes and grotesque costumes. First prizes were $15.00 in gold, second prizes were $10.00 in gold and third prizes were $5.00 in gold, with two special prizes, each $5.00 in gold. (What the two special prizes were for, was not indicated.)

King and Queen of the Carnival
Shown in the photograph above, are the carnival Queen and King as they posed for the photographer in the early 1920's on the sand at Hampton Beach. On the left is "Queen" Mary Ash of Hampton Beach and "King" William Bigley. Behind them is one of the aeroplanes used in flying demonstrations and parachute jumps. Those costumes look very warm, but what price glory!

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