“New” Fete Off to Good Start;

Thousands on three nights over the Fourth of July weekend viewed and were thrilled by Bend’s “new” Mirror Pond fete.

It was a river show entirely different from pageants of the past, dating to 1933. The great arch of blending colors was missing. And so were the floats, with fete queen and princesses riding giant swan and cygnets into the dark river.

Yet the 1960 fete was a crowd pleaser. There was more applause Sunday night, when the seating area was packed to near capacity, than in all 26 previous fetes. People were awed by the earlier arch. But awe does not draw applause.

There was plenty to applaud this year. The dancing water feature, blending music with color and motion, was a beautiful show. The young dancers from Spokane, in their colorful outfits, earned the many rounds of applause they received. Miss America was gracious.

It was a grand show, under the July stars and a quarter moon riding over the pines.

Now the show is history, and Bend must plan for other fetes on the river. What of the future?

There are some who would like to see the colorful arch of Mirror Pond fame incorporated in future shows. This is virtually out of the question. The arch is too costly. Also, there has been evidence through local attendance in recent years that Bend residents have tired of arch and floats.

The river shows of former years had a rather simple start. The “new” fete in the aquatic cove facing Drake Park Saturday night had a fine start. From this auspicious beginning, possibly an even better pageant can be built.

Through the years, the Deschutes fetes have been held primarily for one purpose, that of calling attention of visitors in the vacation season to the beauty of the river as it sweeps through Bend. Up until this year, that beauty has been destroyed for periods of more than a month out of each summer by the construction of barges, arch and ugly booms needed for the three-night show.

This year, Bend visitors enjoyed the fete in the river amphitheater facing picturesque Drake Park. And they enjoyed the full beauty of a river unmarred by wreckage.

Pageantarians can start planning for their 1961 show with the knowledge that they planned well for the 1960 fete.

They presented a show that utilized, but still retained, the beauty of the Mirror Pond.

Source: The Bulletin ©1960

Memories drift to other years as Bend prepares to present its river pageant

Pageant days are here again.

Once more the spotlight turns on the Deschutes and beautiful Drake Park, locale of a three-night fete, on July 2, 3 and 4. This year, memories go back Into the past: The occasion marks anniversaries for both the Mirror Pond and for the park.

It was 50 years ago this summer that water backed up behlnd a new power dam across the Deschutes in Bend and a tree-frlnged, man-made lake formed. Forty years ago Drake Park, named for the founder of Bend, was set aside for public use.

Park and pond have provided for Bend one of the most beautiful settings In all America for a water fete.

Bend was somewhat slow in recognizing the pageant potential of the Mirror Pond, just as early-day residents apparently failed to recognize that the “lake” on the Deschutes would be one of the city’s greatest assets as a tourist attraction.

In distant 1933, the first “pageant” was presented on the Deschutes. It thrilled thousands, but It was crude compared with developments of later years. In that first river show, floats guided by boats moved with the river current. Illumination for  the prize-winnlng float was lantern, on a replica of a drifting covered wagon.

The beautiful arch or glowing hues was a development of later years. Gay floats moved through that giant arch.

They were guided by a long boom, and lighted by electricity.

Last year, it became evident that Bend residents were tiring of the costly arch and floats. Comparatively few local residents attended the 1959 fete. The pageant was presented “in the red.”

So a decision was reached for a change in “format”.. There will be no glowing arch or moving floats this year. Action wlll center on a double stage on the Deschutes, just off picturesque Drake Park. About the only carryover from the arch and float days will be the symbolic mother swan and her bood of six cygnets.

But the new show will be in the same colorful setting, the Deschutes River, under July stars. It was a river that was becalmed 50 years ago when the power dam was built.

Over the Mirror Pond as colored fountains of spray reach up from the river will hang a young moon, with brilliant stars of summer as its escort. In this setting, old pines reach to the river edge. Lawns of homes touch the water.

It is a beautiful show, in a setting with a long history. Bend is mighty proud to serve as host for the colorful pageant of the Deschutes.

Bend’s latchstring is out. May our visitors return in quieter days to view the Deschutes in other moods. They will be welcome.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1960