Project Description

St. George and the Dragon Float

The history of this float goes back in time to the Adam Forepaugh Circus in 1881 when this magnificently carved adornment was the upper portion of a telescoping tableau. Literally being raised up from the body to it’s full height, this amazing vessel stood tall amongst the parade goers making the circus wagon “larger than Life.” Unfortunately, the mechanical workings were not as easy as it sounds and the height in some towns played an important role in the decision to remove the upper carvings. The wagon body was then turned into a gorgeous Bandwagon. This survives at Circus World in Baraboo today where it is known as the Lion and Mirror Bandwagon. The upper carvings were saved and mounted onto a flatbed body that created what is known as St. George and the Dragon Float.

(Richard Conover collection)

Fast forwarding many years, with the original float long gone, the Old Milwaukee Days parade was occurring in Milwaukee, Wisconsin under the sponsorship of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. During the winter of  1966/1967, a gentleman named Henry Boogaard of Kimberly, Wisconsin, was given the opportunity to re-create this fine pony float for the Milwaukee Days parade. Having nothing but a couple photographs to go by, Mr. Boogaard started out by graphing out a photo and transferring the lines to wood.

(Old Milwaukee Days Promotional photo)

Naturally, the carvings were going to be larger than a piece of wood. Mr. Boogaard had the task of gluing up layers of wood to get the pieces large enough to carve the characters out of. Basswood was the primary wood of choice for the carvings.

(Old Milwaukee Days Promotional Photo)

Mr. Boogaard’s fine attention to detail through these old photographic images reaped huge rewards in the 1800 hours he put into the craftsmanship of these carvings.

(Old Milwaukee Days Promotional Photo)

(Old Milwaukee Days Promotional Photo)

Once Mr. Boogaard had finished carving the characters for this whimsical addition to the parade, the carvings were attached to the float chassis and a delicate job of adding the beautiful painted colors to it to bring it to life was administered. The finished product was a sight to behold for all the parade goers to enjoy. Today, this float adorns the inside of the terrific exhibits at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

(St. George & Dragon right front – Dave Lorbeske photo)

The wagon can be seen in person at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin