Artifact of the Month: Carolinas’ Carrousel commemorative buttons

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade enjoys the title for the nation’s most famous Thanksgiving parade, but North Carolina‘s most well-loved Thanksgiving Parade is surely Carolinas’ Carrousel. Our November Artifacts of the Month are two commemorative Carrousel buttons.


Carolinas’ Carrousel began in 1947 and quickly attained big-deal status. In 1950, celebrity cowboy Hopalong Cassidy led the parade, which drew a record crowd of 500,000 attendees.

The celebration has been held every year since its inception and is televised regionally. When it nearly folded in 2013, the company Novant Health rescued it, renaming it the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day parade (and leaving us to perpetually wonder: What was with the extra “r” in “Carrousel”?)


The parade remains as an annual holiday tradition, with floats, balloons, celebrity performances, and an annual scholarship competition. (Would you fault us for bragging if we mentioned that one of the NCC Gallery’s former student employees won 5th place in the 2010 competition?)

2011 Carolinas' Carrousel Parade. Photo by Flickr user cheriejoyful.
2011 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Flickr user cheriejoyful.
2012 Carolinas' Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolina's Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.
2012 Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade. Photo by Charlotte Fire Department.

As we make our annual gratitude list in honor of Thanksgiving, we’ll certainly include blog contributor and ephemera collector Lew Powell. Thanks, Lew, for donating these fantastic buttons (and so many others).

‘A shower of Flesh and Blood’ in Sampson County

“In 1850, a strange package arrived at the North Carolinian [in Fayetteville]. It contained a letter and what appeared to be the rotting organ of an animal.

“ ‘The piece which was left with us,’ the editors wrote, ‘has been examined with two of the best microscopes in the place,’ and certainly contained blood. ‘It has the smell, both in its dry state and when macerated in water, of putrid flesh; and there can be scarcely a doubt that it is such.’

“Thomas Clarkson, who lived on a farm about 13 miles southwest of Clinton, wrote the accompanying letter: ‘On the 15th of Feb’y, 1850, there fell within 100 yards of the residence of Thos. M. Clarkson in Sampson county, a shower of Flesh and Blood, about 50 feet wide, and… 250 or 300 yards in length.’….

“The Clarkson family were not the only witnesses to this strange phenomenon in North Carolina. It was reported to have rained flesh on a farm near Gastonia in 1876, and a shower of blood in Chatham County in 1884 was investigated by none other than F. P. Venable, a young chemist who went on to become president of the University of North Carolina.

“These are only a few of the two dozen reported such cases occurring in 19th-century America. Blood and meat were claimed to rain down on slave and soldier, adult and child. Even if all the events were hoaxes, it remains one of the strangest and most obscure artifacts of our cultural psyche.”

— From “The day it rained blood and guts in North Carolina”  by Tom Maxwell at Indy Week (Oct 29, 2014)

More on “flesh falls” from Harnett County historian John Hairr.