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~ Kathy M.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vintage Oregon ~ Bend's Water Pageant: Mirror Pond on The 4th of July

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Yesterday, when I was taking photos at Trivia Antiques, I found these awesome old postcards for $3.00 each.  I think they were sold by a place called "Photo Art Studio".  They are of the Bend Water Pageant, which was held annually on Bend's Mirror Pond over the 4th of July, from 1933-1965.  I have spent most of this morning researching this subject.  I never use Bing, but it did sure the trick for me today, so I am giving them a shout out right here and now. 

I found two very helpful links, if you would like to learn more about what they did at the pageant and how they accomplished it.  I'll add on to this post as I find more information ... but for now, you can check these out if you would like:
KOHD: Bend Water Pageant Pageant Park

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
There were fireworks, light shows, and there were floats.  This float won first prize in 1940.  It is a replica of the Deschutes County Courthouse.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Pageant background and stage.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
"The Garden Swing Float"

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

"Faith of Our Fathers Float"

I am going to take a chance here that I won't get in trouble for copying and pasting the info about the Water Pageant from's website.  Thanks for sharing with us, you guys!  

So here it goes:
Marker Name: Bend’s Fourth of July Stampede and Water Pageant; located in Pageant Park.

Marker Text: An era of community pride and spirit fostered an extraordinary event. Heralded as Oregon’s greatest celebration, The Bend 4th of July Stampede and Water Pageant brought thousands of visitors to the banks of the Deschutes River from 1933 to 1965. At the height of the festivities in 1940, Bend’s population almost doubled overnight to over 18,000 people. The large crowd overwhelmed the local hotels, restaurants and auto camps prompting the Chamber of Commerce to ask residents to open up their homes to visitors.

The two to four day celebration, which included many events, took over 200 volunteers to organize. Most people come to the celebration to watch the grand Water Pageant on the Deschutes River. With the Cascade Mountains as the backdrop and the tranquil Deschutes River as the stage, the Water Pageant was one of the most unique events in the Pacific Northwest.
Each year a floating arch was built just downstream from the footbridge. Constructed from wood planks, and covered with 400 yards of muslin, the arch was built by local volunteer labor. Always striving to outdo the previous year’s design, the arch reflected the era in which it was constructed. Over the years the arch grew to the height of a four-story building and was over ninety feet long.

As dusk fell and darkness overcame the river, the anxious crowd anticipated the words “Let there be light”. Fireworks then lit up the night sky and a rainbow of colors illuminated the grand arch. The pageant was underway. Inside the arch, a panel of 32 switches controlled 300 lights that changed colors each time a float passed through.

The two-hour Water Pageant featured an average of 18 floats, which traveled from the arch to some 200 yards down river. The elaborate floats, designed and built by both locals and professionals, were initially pushed down the river by swimmers or oarsmen in boats. Later, a long wooden boom designed by Shevlin-Hixon engineer William Cone, was installed in the river and allowed the floats to be pulled by volunteers.

As they moved down the river, each float was lit from within and had its own special music and narration. Some floats, like the 40-foot scale model of the USS Missouri in 1953, had moving parts. Shevlin-Hixon’s scale replica of Mill A had logs which were set on a continuous chain that fed the logs from the river and into the mill.

Sponsored by various civic organizations in Central Oregon, each year a queen was selected to preside as host of the festivities. During the Water Pageant, the queen rode on a large swan float that was over 18 feet high. The queen’s court followed the swan on small cygnet barges.
Draped in a long royal cape, holding an ornate scepter and capped with a jeweled crown, each year the queen was announced with the following prose: “In Majestic and proud splendor floats the mirror pond swan, bearing his burden of royalty and charm. Behold the Queen! Let everyone bow before her majesty. This royal retinue shall reign supreme. Hail the Queen!”

Update:  August 9, 2011 - I just made a post about Drake Park and Mirror Pond, if you want to take a look.  Just "CLICK HERE".

At Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy, if you miss a day, you miss a lot!  All material on this post is copyrighted and not for use without my permission ...Please click here to go to my home page and see what is happening in Mayberry today.
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Lynn said...

Very cool postcards!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You always manage to find wonderful treasures. You must keep your heart open for such things that others might pass by. Very cool.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Lynn,
Thank you so much for stopping by! I am glad that you enjoyed the postcards. They inspired me to learn a bit more about them.

Hi Lisa,
YOU always say the nicest things to me, helping me to see myself in a more positive manner, my friend. On these cards, the price was right too, I thought it was $3.00 for 10 of them so I grabbed up the great deal ... they were $3.00 each, so I sorted through my favorites. I have always been interested in the pageant though.


Terry said...

Howdy Kathy
Happy PFF :)
Your post is fantastic and the postcards are all very stunning.
There is just so much cool stuff to learn about once you start collecting and sharing postcards.
Until next time
Happy Trails

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hey Terry,

I think that I am hooked now! I'm keeping my eyes open for them now.

Thanks, Terry.


Postcardy said...

The float postcards are very interesting. I wonder why they quit having that event.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Postcardy,

I think it was that everybody in charge became worn out, it cost so much for the Chamber of Commerce to put on, and attendance began getting too low to support the event.

Thank you so much for stopping by.


No Copying!


Links to My Oregon Blog Posts (Except for Central Oregon):

"Oregon Bloggers"

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"Writing and Poetry Blogs":