April 30, 2014

Waffles, Parades, and Vigilantes

by Natalie Waterman, Photo Archivist

What do waffles, railroads, prospectors and high-tension robberies have in common? You’re right if you guessed Helena's annual Vigilante Day Parade. A time-honored tradition since 1924, the event celebrates Montana’s rich past through historically-themed floats—all built and staffed by high school students.

Helena High Principal Albert J. Roberts conceived of the parade as a way to combat the springtime restlessness of upper classmen, and to reduce participation in "Sneak Day"—an unauthorized break from classes.

This May 9, 1930, photo of young bakers showcases the popularity of whoopee waffles,
a close relative of the popular whoopie pie dessert. (PAC 2014-11.1)
Sadly, the tasty treat did not bring a first-place win to this entry. That honor. according to Helena Daily Independent (May 16, 1930), went to a float depicting The Montana Post, the first newspaper operation in the state.

To try your hand at making whoopie, check out these recipes:
The 2014 Vigilante Day Parade commences at noon on Friday, May 2, in downtown Helena. Many photos of past Vigilante Day Parades are available for viewing in the Montana Historical Society Research Center's Photograph Archives.