pageant, modern dramatic spectacle or procession celebrating a special occasion or an event in the history of a locality. In medieval times the word pageant had meant the wagon or the movable stage on which one scene of a mystery or miracle play was performed. The pageant was built on wheels and consisted of two rooms, the lower one being used as a dressing room and the upper used as a stage. The word also referred to the complex wooden machine-structures built for the Tudor masque. The modern form of the pageant came into general use in England and America since the production, in 1905, of L. N. Parker's Sherborne pageant in England. Pageants include such celebrations as the Mardi Gras and annual local festivals.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.