The tradition of second line handkerchiefs are based on the famous New Orleans jazz funerals. In New Orleans, a jazz band would play and parade in honor of the life of a deceased person. The second line is the group dancing or walking just behind the band, which is the first line. Many in the parade either had an umbrella or parasol to add to the spirit of the procession. Of course there was music that was associated with the second line dance. Those who did not have the umbrellas and wanted to join the procession would grab the nearest white handkerchief to wave in the air and join the parade. The white handkerchiefs were often in the pockets of the gentlemen in days of old, or the ladies personal handkerchief.
Now the celebration of life, grand openings, births and weddings have added the second line parade to display the joy of social event. Today any paper or cloth napkin has been used to wave in the air to allow you to join in the parade and be a part of the crowds procession.
These “second line” dance traditions have expanded to be included in political events, birthday parties, weddings and many other social events.
The parades and processions will continue to exist for the joy of life and to let the good times roll.