Second line umbrellas were born from the traditions of a New Orleans style Jazz Funeral of the early 1800s. But today, and particularly next Saturday, second line umbrellas will help Cheraw’s citizens celebrate a happier occasion; like the birth of John Birks Gillespie.
This Saturday, Oct. 13, in preparation for Cheraw’s 7th annual South Carolina Jazz Festival, the Cheraw Arts Commission is sponsoring a workshop for the creation of “Jazzy” umbrellas. The brightly colored and decorated umbrellas will add color, and vitality as participants march to the beat of a Be-Bop Parade, New Orleans style, the following Saturday, Oct. 20. The parade, which is open for anyone age 5 to adult, will begin on Huger Street at Dizzy Gillespie Park, at 11 a.m., and proceed downtown.
Participants for the workshop can bring their own umbrellas; supplies will be available at no charge. Umbrellas will also be available for purchase for $4.
“This would be a great project for adults and children to create a ‘Jazzy’ umbrella together,” said Cheraw Arts Commission Executive Director Lindsay Bennett.
Second line umbrellas are now part of festivals across the country that celebrate all occasions. The name, however, is derived directly from old, southern funeral traditions where the casket is carried through town, followed by the family, the “first-line” of mourners, the jazz band, and friends; then the second line of mourners.
In those days all mourners carried umbrellas, fans or handkerchiefs because of the heat and sun. The procession to the grave was always slow and quiet, but as soon as the burial was complete, it was time to celebrate the life of the deceased. Many believe the celebration helps release the soul.
In New Orleans, and next week in Cheraw, these second line umbrellas will be seen celebrating jazz.
Contact the Cheraw Arts Commission at 843-537-8420, ext. 12, for workshop information and to register. The Cheraw Arts Commission is supported by the United Way of Chesterfield County and the SC Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.