January 12, 1888, marked not only the famous blizzard but a happier event–what the Omaha Daily Bee on January 13 called “An Ice Union of Two Cities.” Despite the inclement weather, a sleighing carnival in Council Bluffs attracted many Omahans from across the frozen Missouri River. The Bee said:
“The weather was most inauspicious, as the air was filled with snow from early morning until after night set in. Despite the storm, about five hundred sleighs belonging to citizens of the Bluffs turned out to do honor to the visitors, who were met at the river’s bank and escorted through the city. The Omahans arrived in about two hundred and seventy-five sleighs and were accompanied by a fine band.” It was estimated that the crowd included at least 3,000 people, with 800 from Omaha, including students from the Omaha Business College in a chartered, four-horse sleigh.
After speeches and refreshments at the Ogden House, the sleighing carnival participants adjourned to the Masonic Temple, “where dancing was indulged in. During the whole afternoon refreshments were served in the dining hall of the Ogden. Several of the guests returned to the other side of the river early in the afternoon, owing to the increased violence of the storm, although some remained in the city over night.”
A second carnival, hosted by Omaha on January 20, was intended to repay the hospitality of Council Bluffs and attracted a large number of sleighs from across the still frozen Missouri River. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor/Publications