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May Party dress

Tallahassee loves to hold festivals in the springtime, and has for many years. The May Party was a long-running springtime tradition in Tallahassee, held yearly from 1844 to 1974. It took place in Lewis Park, on Park Avenue. As part of the festivities, Leon High School students chose a May Queen and her court from among the senior girls at school. The participants changed into their festive finery at the nearby Knott House, now an historic house museum and part of the Museum of Florida History. The Queen held court under the May Oak, a large oak tree in the park. The tree has since collapsed and only the stump remains. A nearby plaque commemorates the May Party. This organza and satin dress belonged to Joann Gresham. In 1958, Gresham’s fellow students chose her as a court attendant for that year’s May Party. (May Party dress, 1958. Collection of the Museum of Florida History)