Jim Kershner’s this day in history

MONDAY, AUG. 4, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

A crowd of more than 20,000 jammed Natatorium Park to witness a spectacular commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Great Spokane Fire of 1889.

The main attraction was a miniature reproduction of Riverside Avenue, circa 1889. The main street buildings were built of wood and painted to look like the real thing. As the finale to a giant fireworks display, a number of “bombs” were dropped on the little wooden city. It burned to the ground, just like the real one did in 1889.

The celebration also included a parade, which featured a group dressed as the volunteer firemen of 25 years before, wearing plug hats and linen dusters. They were followed by the present-day fire department, showing off the latest in modern automobile firefighting apparatus.

The celebration included a baseball game between the “pioneers of 1889” and the “young fellows.” One of the oldsters, Fred McBroom, had the biggest hit of the day, all the way to the Natatorium Park fence. In fact, it was “by all odds the hardest drive made on the grounds this season by a man over 25.”

In another part of the park, a “tent city” was set up to look like the tent city that sprang up after the 1889 fire.

The evening’s entertainment included two moving picture shows, a Hawaiian musical quartet and a cabaret singer.

A promised “public wedding” turned out to be a vaudeville comedy routine, as an “abductor” showed up to carry the “bride” away. The bride, a man in a wedding dress, escaped from the kidnapper by jumping into a pond.


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