Lady Liberty and the First Known Use of Ticker-Tape in a Parade

A Brief History

On October 29, 1886, the first recorded use of ticker-tape was noted during the parade for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

Digging Deeper

As a native of Northeast Ohio for my entire life (24 years and counting), to my knowledge the closest thing to a major celebration that the city has had in the past ten years was probably when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2007.  Reams of flashy confetti rained down upon screaming fans in Quicken Loans Arena as the Cleveland Cavaliers were crowned champions of the eastern conference.  Although the celebration was short-lived, circles of sports fans continue to dream about the day that one of Cleveland’s sports teams will celebrate winning a major championship.  Occasionally, fans conjure images of the celebration of the future triumph, which would last for days with people joyously singing songs of praise.  There would be miles and miles of confetti up and down the roads.  Without confetti, the fantasy would be incomplete.

Among the many things that the city of New York is known for, the use of ticker tape during major celebrations is probably one of those things that are taken for granted, even though it is perhaps one of the most visible and messy.  The day was October 29, 1886.  Citizens cluttered the streets and sidewalks of New York City while braving the bitter cold drizzle that dripped down from the sky.  National banners waved from windows above while people peered down, watching as the rather dull procession proceeded down Fifty-Fifth Street, drudgingly marching along and at times making stops due to the mass congestion of people clogging the streets.  The citizens stayed as cheerful as they could in such conditions, but the weather was testing their conduct.  Then, the leading marching band blared out a tune and was accompanied by the click-clack of the naval and army brigades.  The crowds were jolted with energy.  Little children slithered their way through small gaps that allowed them to follow the procession, testing the patience of police officers who wielded clubs and hinted to the crowd to not get too wild.  The parade grew larger as it moved.  At one point, the crowds became so large that their overwhelming physical presence threatened to break down a wall that was guarding an area of excavation near Broadway.

Luckily, a courageous Irish fellow was able to prevent the pending disaster by warning the crowds.  In order to make sure that the streets did not become too congested, the parade broke-off into smaller detachments.  One of these detachments proceeded down Wall Street, which largely went about its business, though “pretty country cousins” and many strangers gaped in wonder as the detachment marched down the street.  Finally, according to our New York Times reporter, “All this display was an inspiration to so many imps of office boys, who, from a hundred windows began to unreel the spools of tape that record the fateful message of the ‘ticker….’  Every window appeared to be a paper mill spouting out squirming lines of tape.  Such was Wall-Street’s novel celebration.”

Historical Evidence

YouTube has plenty of videos that capture the use of ticker tape during celebrations, which include New York City’s welcoming of General Douglas MacArthur, astronaut John Glenn and troops from the Desert Storm War in 1991.  In addition, Time magazine’s Laura Fitzpatrick wrote an excellent article entitled “Brief History: Ticker-Tape Parades” about the history of ticker-tape parades on November 6th, 2009; this article is available online.  For more information about the parade and access to a contemporary account, please visit and search for “The Sights and Sightseers.”  For this fact and others, see also Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into History Again.

You may like to read this book to learn other cool historical facts

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into History Again (Paperback)

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Joseph Roskos

Joseph Roskos is currently pursuing a MA degree in History at John Carroll University as a graduate assistant with the intention of eventually earning a doctorate. His academic interests revolve around the intersections of race, gender, and class in popular culture, particularly focusing on U.S. social and cultural history after World War II.

  • Mallory M

    I have never seen this statue

  • Breann G.

    I have not seen the statue either.

  • Shelby R.

    I have not seen the statue either.

  • Tyler Cates

    I have not seen the statue.

  • Lynnette B.

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty in person, but I did see it from an airplane once.

  • Lynnette B.

    I have not seen the statue in person, but I have seen it from an airplane.

  • T Goff

    I have seen her. It is quite impressive and, believe it or not, it was quite a moving experience kind of like viewing Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon.

  • Brooke K.

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty, but I definitely hope to someday!

  • Brent

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty yet but I hope to this upcoming summer.

  • Karen Clift

    yes I have seen Lady Liberty from an airplane view. I also watched a program on the history channel about the Statue of Liberty being a satanic symbol. Weird!!

  • CLM

    No I have not seen the Statue of Liberty. Maybe I will see it some day.

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  • Emily Kaiser

    I saw the Statue of Liberty from afar–we went on a ferry ride past her, and that’s as close as I’ve gotten.

  • K^2

    I have seen the Statue of Liberty. We visited New York 2 months after 9/11, no one was allowed to walk inside but I was able to still see her.

  • LS

    I have never seen the Statue of Liberty, only on tv

  • J B

    I have never seen the statue of liberty, in fact, I have never seen the east coast, as I am from Colorado

  • T Harvey

    I have never been to New York and I have never saw the Statue of Liberty. I think that it would be awesome to see but personally, at this point in life, I have never saw it.

  • A.Dunn

    I have never seen the statue of liberty, only on T.V and in brochures. I hope to one day see it.

  • Ethan R.

    I’ve never been to the Big Apple either. It’s definitely on my top list of places to visit though.

  • karin

    Karin, never been to New York city but would like to visit Ellis island and the statue.

  • RSiburt

    I’ve never been to the city, but I’m making plans to go in the next couple of years. I’ve heard that when the ticker-tape comes out it is quite a spectacle to behold. Can’t wait to see it.

  • Cbierman

    I have only been to the smaller parts of NY (ski resorts, small towns/cities, mainstream hotels for events). I have yet to go to NYC and take in the city. A good friend of mine want me to go there with him and eventually get a penthouse over looking the city (he can dream right, and he might get it cause he is tenuous). It seems to me, it is an American Icon on all grounds from holidays to sports to history.

  • Andrea O.

    I have never seen the statue in person.

  • HB

    I have never seen the statue in person, although it would be pretty cool to do so.

  • Cody B

    I have not been to New York City to see the statue, however I know a few people who have and say it is amazing.

  • Garrett Marino

    I have never seen the statue in person, but it would definitely be cool to be able to one day.

  • Amber J

    I have never seen the statue in person, however it could be something I would like to go see maybe one day.

  • Derek Phillips

    The introduction makes me laugh.

  • Danielle

    This would have been very cool to see back then. I can’t imagine how much ticker tape would have been flying around.

  • Madeline Bowen

    I think the statue would be so cool and interesting to actually see if I ever make it up to New York!

  • Emmaline K

    I have never, in my entire life, heard of using the name ticker tape for a form of confetti.

  • Meghan R

    I have never heard of the origin of confetti and didn’t know that it was ever called ticker tape.

  • Amber Moore

    Oh, how Cleveland longs for a winning team! Could you even imagine how much “tinker tape” would be used in the streets of Cleveland if the Browns won the Super Bowl?! Anyway, it would have been amazing to see this display by the people of New York.

  • K

    I didn’t know ticker tape was confetti.

  • NF

    I went there during this winter break and it was amazing city. I could imagine the scene from this article.

  • Raquel F

    I hope that one day I can be apart of an elaborate celebration like one of those.

  • Yasser Alkhayal

    I’m surprised and glad to learn the confetti and ticker tape. This is what is real remarkable and historical phenomena.

  • Ahmed Alnassar

    I have never heard of the ticker tape before. I would like to see the statue one day.

  • Austin Miko

    I did not realize that ticker tape was confetti, you learn something new every day.

  • Amber Pope

    Perhaps it has something to do with never having experienced confetti in person, but I never thought about its origins. It was interesting to learn them though.

  • Diana N

    I did not know that ticker tape was another name for confetti. It sounds a bit weird.

  • Sarah G

    Its cool to learn that ticker tape/confetti was used for the first time for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

  • Brett Nagy

    I didn’t know that confetti had this other name. Interesting to see that something so simple has such an involved history.

  • Erika Grumbach

    I’ve never heard of ticker tape before. I’ve never seen the Statue of Liberty in person. It sounds like a fun day in history.

  • Sabrina Peelman

    I had never heard of ticker tape before, confetti seems like a much better name.

  • Nicole Z

    I never knew confetti was called ticker tape. I do plan on seeing the Statue of Liberty some day.

  • Colton M

    Interesting that ticker tape is another name for confetti, and I hope someday that I can see the statue of liberty.

  • Brandon

    The tradition starts! The ticker tape parade has been around now for almost a century and half now and one of my favorite forms of celebration of all time

  • Melody Ortiz

    it was new to find out that confetti first name was ticker tape that is pretty funny. But it was cool to have had for the dedication of the statue of liberty. I have seen the statue of liberty when i was younger

  • MM

    It is pretty funny that confetti, (paper!) wasn’t thought of until 1886, yet so many other inventions were about to come out at that time. I also think it’s funny that everyone was so excited to see paper fall from the sky! haha

  • LF

    its amazing how many things today we take for granite, and how it use to be a big thing a long time ago

  • AM

    I never knew ticker tape was the original name for confetti.

  • PW

    Cleveland fans did get a win with the Cavs! 🙂 It’s neat that we use Ticker Tape still today. We use the confetti for celebration still. Some things don’t change

  • ES

    I never knew confetti had this name but it is cool to learn about the past of it.

  • CM

    At first I was very confused what ” Ticker Tape ” was but now I know. I usually call it confetti though.

  • TC

    At first, I thought I had no clue what “Ticker Tape” was. But then I realized that it was confetti and I thought it was pretty cool to learn that it used to have a different name.

  • AA

    I did not know that confetti was called ticker tape. Interesting to learn that the first use of this was for the Statue of Liberty parade.

  • Kayla Fox

    I have been to NYC yet missed the Statue of Liberty! Definitely my first stop next time I visit!

  • lm

    It’s awesome to say that we now have won the championship and even though it’s not the main point of the article, it is really cool to relate and add on to it! 🙂

  • mason saunders

    I wish i could be apart of such a luxuriant occasion such as this.

  • SR

    It’s really weird they called confetti “Ticker Tape”

  • MT

    The terms they used to use are very different from what we use today.

  • b_kinsinger

    Its weird because i don’t really associate “inventions” with things like confetti. When i think of inventions i think of machinery, tools, objects..

  • jo

    I didn’t know ticker tape was confetti until now.

  • Allison Lester

    I find the referral of confetti as “ticker tape” to be quite interesting. It’s no doubt that there are still huge parades today (NYC) with confetti just like there was in the past.

  • David Birkbeck

    “Ticker Tape” although messy seems amazing.

  • EK

    The association between the tape described and our confetti is one I’ve never noticed before.

  • BS

    I have never considered the difference small things like ticker tape have made on the history of celebrations and parades!

  • Kelynn Heckman

    Had no idea that ticker tape was actually confetti

  • Lori Caudill

    I never knew of ticker tape or how it came to be a celebratory staple.

  • Lydia Ott

    It was ironic that this article mentions the celebration of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrating a conference win in 2007 and this past season they won the championship and the amount of ticker tape at that parade was incredible!

  • Diana Minich

    Ticker tape wasn’t quite like confetti we have today. Ticker tape was long thin strips of paper, like ribbon or tape, that had stock info printed on it. Ticker was from the sound the stock machines made. I like to watch old movies.

  • Dakota Zimmerman

    What an amazing portion of history that is used from so many celebrations. I never understood the tradtition

  • Lessie Parish

    I never understood why we used confetti. What an interesting article.

  • Samantha Didion

    I never even thought about why we use confetti…

  • Elizabeth Bon

    They even recycled back then! I never knew it was ticker tape they used back then for confetti, what a great idea! It started a great tradition!!

  • Jennifer Maurer

    We as Americans have always loved a celebration! I think this is such a cool piece of history. I have lived my whole life in a small town and love the idea of how major cities have smaller boroughs and neighborhoods. I love that a city-wide parade would have broken off for each little neighborhood to celebrate, too!!

  • Kristin Fellure

    I think it is great that they celebrated back then similarly to how we celebrate today. I did not know that they used ticker tape instead of confetti. I was not sure what ticker tape was until after reading this article.

  • Jordin Vidmar

    I have never given a thought to the concept of having and using confetti at our celebrations and parties now… The tradition makes no sense now that I think about it. This article was great to read and understand a little more about its background.

  • Kala Strong

    I like that the celebration practices they used in the past are still used in today’s times. It would be beneficial to the environment if we used recycled paper for confetti instead of what we use today.

  • Rose Jepson

    It’s interesting to see that not much has changed for celebrations in New York. Before reading this article, I had never even heard of ticker tape. I also never thought of how the tradition of confetti started.

  • Natalie antonio

    it’s interesting to me that celebrations have not changed that much in NYC, I had heard of ticker tape before in the use of it on New Years Eve when they drop the ball at midnight. It was interesting to read about the tradition of how it came to become!

  • Brandon Wagner

    I can relate to the author of this article because I just went to a similar event in Cleveland, Ohio. This summer I went to the similarly, confetti filled NBA championship parade.

  • MP

    Not much has changed since then. Parades are very similar now a days compared to back then.

  • Ben McClay

    I really liked how the author related the ticker-tape to the NBA Eastern Conference finals. I can relate to the article because I vividly remember when the Cavaliers beat the Detroit Pistons in this championship game. Ticker Tape is used for practically every sporting event these days.

  • Taylor Young

    After reading this article, I realized how amazing it is to think about how such a small invention such as ticker tape is so widely used and how it is represented.

  • Audrey Manahan

    This article was kinda cute. It is interesting to hear about the origin of such a thing as “ticker tape”. I do not think I would have ever known this if I had not read this article. It makes me wonder about where other little things actually came from.

  • Jingshan Jiang

    After reading this article, I want to say that don’t underestimate any small invention. Ticker tape as a very small invention even changed people’s lifestyle at that time. This is the power and charm of invention.

  • Shuling He

    Most of the small inventions were still useful right now. They might be improved to be another look but I need to remember that how these people and invention make our life better.

  • Alyssa Hanes

    Learning about how something as small as ticker-tape can be so useful and improved is such a cool concept. Who would have thought that such a small invention would have such a big outcome!

  • Daina Thomas

    I had no idea what ticker tape was until I read this article. It’s nice reading these articles and learning more about inventions.

  • Shannon Read

    I had never heard of ticker tape before reading this article. I enjoyed hearing how the invention came to be, and in a sense became a pretty big significance at the time.

  • Breanna Beckley

    It was interesting to read this article because I had no idea what a ticker tape was.

  • Michaela Ping

    I didn’t even know what ticker tape was before this article.

  • Azia

    Wow this is so interesting, didn’t know what ticker tape was before reading this article. It was great to learn about the history of those “squirming lines of tape”.

  • Travis Tarnowski

    I did not know what ticker tape was before reading this. It was interesting to see how one invention led to another one.

  • Keagan Frey

    Today, most people do not think twice when they see confetti falling from the sky during parades and celebrations. I’m also sure that just the added affects of the confetti or in this case “ticker tape” make the celebrations seem so much more wild. I wonder what made the people on Wall Street throw the tape out of their windows in celebration.