When the Liberty Loan Parade began on September 28 1918, over 200,000 people crowded along Broad Street to cheer a line of marchers stretching over two miles.
It was to become an iconic moment in the history of Philadelphia and part of the global story of the deadliest flu epidemic the world has ever seen.
Within 72 hours every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled. Over the next six weeks, a quarter of the population fell ill and more than 12,000 people died. The disease’s rapid spread paralysed the city and traumatised its inhabitants.
When the pandemic finally ended in early 1919, Philadelphia had lost over 20,000 people. Its death rate was the highest among major American cities.
On 28 September 2019, an interactive parade of light and sound remembered the individuals who lost their lives and the health workers who put their own lives on the line in times of crisis.
Led by multiple banks of dazzling white light, and pulsing with the sounds of a hundred different audio sources held by the marchers, the parade will be a beacon for people to join. We will walk with a group of mobile light sculptures and hundreds of cell phones will play a new score by David Lang sung by Philadelphia Grammy-winning choir The Crossing. Those marching will propel it onwards towards Philadelphia’s City Hall, as a collective act of remembrance and a celebration of the health workers who keep us all safe.
Created in partnership with the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Spit Spreads Death Parade will mark one hundred years of civic pride and shared history.
The parade will take place at dusk on 28 September. Sign up to receive more information about the parade and how you can take part at www.spitspreadsdeath.com.