Alliance gave Ohio its official state flower, the scarlet carnation. In 1866, an Alliance doctor, Levi L. Lamborn, purchased six potted carnation plants. At that time there were very few of the flowers being cultivated in the United States. Dr. Lamborn, who loved flowers, intended to grow the rare carnations in the greenhouse that adjoined his house on the northwest corner of Main Street and Union Avenue.
In addition to his medical practice and his flower raising, the doctor had an interest in politics. In 1876 he ran against Mr. William McKinley for the Congressional seat from this district. Although the two men differed politically, they were personal friends. Since Mr. McKinley had expressed his admiration for the lovely flowers, Dr. Lamborn always presented him with a carnation for his lapel before their political debates. Mr. McKinley won the election to Congress and associated the carnation with his success. As he went on to become Governor of Ohio and then President of the United States, he wore the flower during his political campaigns.
In 1904, three years after President McKinley's assassination and 20 years after Dr. Lamborn had first made the suggestion that the flower be made a state emblem, the Ohio General Assembly voted to make the scarlet carnation the official state flower as a "token of love and reverence to the memory of William McKinley." Every year on President McKinley's birthday, January 29th, a bouquet of red carnations is put into the carved hands of his lifelike statue in front of the Capitol in Columbus.
In 1959, the General Assembly named Alliance the "Carnation City". Since 1960 the annual Carnation Festival has been held in Alliance during the month of August. It is a busy and exciting 10 days during which Alliance is remembered as the birthplace of Ohio's scarlet carnation.