A New Orleans tradition, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, can be traced back to nineteenth century benevolent societies that provided health care and burial services for their ethnic members. Besides these benefits, the clubs also encouraged leadership skills and provided a space for discussing social issues, as well as entertainment in the form of picnics, parades, dinners and formal balls.
The members of New Orleans’ social aid and pleasure clubs are the organizers, originators, and sponsors of the second line parades for which the city is famous. The brass band that follows the parade’s grand marshal and club members, who are always dressed in coordinated suits and classy hats, blast out exuberant rhythms to propel everyone’s high-spirited march through the streets. The club and brass band are known as the first line, and the audience that forms behind the parade to join in the festivities is the second, hence the term second line parade.
Like New Orleans, the Keweenaw had many social clubs when the diverse immigrants came to log and or mine the county. The Free Masons, the Independent Order of Oddfellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World were a few of the many organizations that met to fulfill the needs of its members as well as provide social functions for their community to participate in.
The former Eagle Harbor General Store, where the Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club is located, had many similar pursuits providing food and nourishment, tools and housewares, dry goods, hunting supplies, as well as craft beer and liquor to the community. Bands played and gathered together every year for a parade that was held to celebrate the owner’s birthday. It was gathering place and it’s eclectic collection of memorabilia the was displayed in the store next to the general merchandise. These odd assortment of relics, toys and lagniappe was donated by the many residents of Eagle Harbor Township bringing together a collective memory of a colorful and historic present and past.
With this tradition in mind we will explore ways to provide social aid for the soul and offer a pleasure club by presenting various cultural offerings though out the year. And maybe even a parade. Come join along as a club member or celebrate in the second line.
One of the yearly birthday parades for co-owner Emmit Fowley.