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Lenox Tub Parade


This 1886 cover image from Harper’s Magazine depicts the annual Gilded Age Tub Parade held by young society women in Lenox MA during the heyday of the Berkshire “Cottagers.” The wealthiest of the wealthiest built elaborate homes, called cottages, in Lenox and Stockbridge in the latter part of the 19th century, carrying the summer social season from Boston and New York into the Berkshires from July through Labor Day.

Young women particularly liked Lenox because they had more freedom to ride, drive and hike. Rather spontaneously in 1883 they created the Lenox Floral Parade, a quintessential high-society event when women and children dressed to the hilt at the close of the summer season and drove their tubs—light carriages easily handled by a woman and elaborately decorated with fall flowers from local gardens—through the streets of Lenox.

Like many goings-on in Lenox, it was closely followed and reported in local papers as well as national newspapers and magazines. A report in the society pages of The New York Times from 1888 described the parade as "a beautiful spectacle and the finest parade ever seen in town."

Some reports described the people and rigs in detail; others described social occasions such as “tea and a band at Sunset Terrace,” or “the young set went to Coldbrook where Mrs. Barnes gave a dance.”

The event faded, along with the Gilded Age after World War I but was revived in the late 20th century by the Chamber of Commerce and the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society. It is still held annually.