The old-fashioned free street parade was an opportunity for a circus to showcase its grandeur.  Americans began to judge a circus by its parade.  As an advertisement, there could be none better.  Townspeople packed along the parade route to catch a glimpse of the wagons, elephants, horses, bands, wild animals, and pretty girls could rarely resist following the parade back to the showgrounds and buying a ticket to the circus. 


Tiny Kline, a performer in the early 1920s, describes the circus parade in her memoirs as "a sample of color and beauty, a part of the show that served its purpose of whetting the appetite of the public, from banker to farmer, to see the the talent of these supermen and gorgeous women."


To impress paradegoers was also the principal function of the ornate and extravagant wagons.  A perfect example of Victorian decorative arts, the wagons were heavily ornamented, often with historic and mythological motifs.


Each wagon had a specific place in the lineup, and every person on the circus payroll not engaged with the setup of the tents at the showgrounds was given a costume and appointed a role in the parade.