Royal return: Teens vie for revived Water Pageant’s crowns

Ten teen-agers who just might restore a cynic’s faith in the “species” have been chosen to represent Deschutes County’s five high schools and vie for the queen’s and king’s crowns in a new feature of the revived, second annual Bend Water Pageant.

Nine of the 10 students, all from the Class of 2002, met with reporters and each other for the first time Wednesday morning at Pioneer Park (Justin Little of Sisters High was at work, alas). None appeared shy or embarrassed to be wearing the kind of satin sashes long associated with beauty pageants, and instead expressed pride in a chance to represent their school and promote an event they had known little or nothing about before.

The Bend Youth Crew, which puts on the event with coordinator Ethel Stratton of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, turned to teachers and counselors in a bid to find students to nominate for the honor. Criteria included character, a grade-point average of at least 2.5, participation in sports or the arts, community service/involvement and leadership qualities.

In a year of proclaimed drought across much of the state, it’s somewhat fitting that the Water Pageant court was named in one of Bend’s rainiest weeks in months – but that the sun shone through Wednesday as the participants lined up for photos and instructions from Stratton.

“We could not have been more blessed,” she said.

Unlike most events around the region, there are no corporate sponsors for the Water Pageant. Instead, it is the signature fund-raiser for the Victims Assistance Program of Deschutes County. The state-mandated program, overseen by the district attorney’s office, is the sole recipient of all proceeds from the event.

Judges will pick pageant king and queen; but don’t call them princes or princesses

A panel of judges, including local business people, will choose a king and queen from among the 10 teens to reign over the festivities, scheduled for Aug. 13-19. Last summer, the Water Pageant was successfully revived after a 35-year absence, featuring a newly built, giant swan float on Mirror Pond and the theme, “Rediscover the Spirit.” This year’s theme: “2001: A Water Odyssey.”

The members of the court are: Erik Berglund and Kat Leatherwood of Bend High; Joe Meredith and Mari Hickman of Mountain View High; Shane Van Matre and Kara Rasmussen of Redmond High; Brian Collins and Shandi Isaccson of LaPine High; and Justin Little and Jamie Cundiff of Sisters High.

Note that, while any of them 10 may be crowned Water Festival king or queen in August, they are not referred to in the meantime as princes or princesses, only as members of the court. Stratton noted that even the Portland Rose Festival has dropped the historic moniker of princesses, in favor of “ambassadors.” The royal element isn’t what’s stressed, she said, but that the young people “are representatives of their communities and the school.”

The Water Pageant court will march in the July 4th parade in Redmond and a similar event in La Pine on July 7, and also will make civic appearances before such bodies as the county commission and city councils.

Cundiff said she’s done community service projects before, but “not on a citywide basis” like her new role. Berglund said the first word each participant got was a phone call in which Stratton identified herself as being with the sheriff’s office. “So she scared us,” he joked.

The original Bend Water Pageant, begun in the 1930s, also had its queens (no kinds), and Stratton said it was “a very political” affair. Businesses, such as the sawmills and insurance companies, would select a girl and sponsor her in the event. “Then they had to sell tickets,” she said, “and the one who sold the most tickets was named queen.”

Scholarships may be in event’s future; parade, walk/run added this year

The old saw about the Miss America contest is that it isn’t a beauty pageant, it’s a scholarship competition. And Stratton said the Water Pageant organizers are looking for assistance with the idea that perhaps the court members, or just the king and queen, also could win scholarships. (The court will grow to an even dozen next year, after Summit High School opens, she said.)

The Water Pageant again will include some popular events from last year’s revival, including a downtown barbecue and old West shootout, the Saturday morning “gravity drags” soap box races, a tea and fashion show, “queen’s ball” (family dance) and a family picnic Sunday afternoon at Drake Park.

But there are new elements this year as well, including a 5K run/walk on Sunday morning, and a Friday night twilight parade, for which the event organizers are seeking participants, from musicians to clowns or jugglers. Contact Stratton at 388-6659 or estratton@yahoo.com .

Source: The Bend Bugle ©2001

Water Pageant back again: ‘2001: A Water Odyssey’

The Bend Youth Council is pleased to present to the residents of Deschutes County the 2nd Bend Water Pageant of this century, “2001: A Water Odyssey”. The pageant takes place in downtown Bend and on the banks of the Deschutes River. Honoring the Deschutes River as an intrigal player in Bend’s history we acknowledge our heritage this year with a “Water Odyssey”. Once again Bends rich and colorful heritage will unfold for our residents and visitors to our community.

In 1933 the first pageant grew from the creative minds of a few Bend citizens, graduates of the University of Oregon. Recalling the Canoe Fetes in Eugene they believed Bend could do the same but on a grander scale. A few thousand people viewed the first event “with a few small floats and a few pretty girls, drifting down the river.” By 1965 there were 19 floats, 20,000 people lining the banks of the Deschutes to view the event and a 90 foot lighted arch spanning the river.

The rebirth of the Pageant in 2000 was not designed to replicate the previous pageant but to acquaint current Bend residents with our history. Newcomers to the area never had the opportunity to participate in or experience the true community spirit of Bend in the early 30’s and 40’s, nor the extravagant Bend River Pageant. Today Bend is hailed for our livability, volunteerism and civic commitment. This certainly comes in part from the legacy left by the residents of this area in the past 90 years. Their spirit and civic commitment is not forgotten but cherished and reborn in this premier event.

“Rediscover the Spirit” in 2000 was a wonderful success. Collaborative thinking, creativity and the artistic talents of current residents made last year’s event a grand success. The weeklong pageant was presided over by the 1934 Queen Lois Maker Gumpert and the 1965 Queen Linda Mirich Williamson. Many court members from previous years were in attendance for the rebirth of this event. The community was treated to an old fashioned ice cream social; an old west BBQ and “Shoot Out” in downtown Bend presented by the Horse Ridge Pistoleros; a historic fashion show and tea set in the park featuring fashions from Bends past; and the presentation of a 30 foot lighted swan float, designed and built by community members. Over $100,000 of in-kind and volunteer labor went into the crafting and launching of this float. Court members from 1934 to 1965 gathered for a reunion at the famous Pine Tavern in downtown Bend and Saturday evening these court members floated once again down the Deschutes River to cheering crowds lining the banks of the river.

This event is “By the community – For the community.” There are no corporate sponsors. All events are “adopted” by or donated to the pageant by local businesses, agencies or individuals. We rely heavily on volunteers, in-kind donations and direct financial support. The sale of T-shirts, posters, prints and swan pins generate funds to defray the expenses of putting on a pageant of this quality and size. Our carver that produced the beautiful hand carved wooden swans last year has designed another beautiful piece for this year and we do have a few of the original 2000 swans left for purchase.

“2001: A Water Odyssey” includes new and exciting events. Kick off is Monday August 13th with the launching of the giant swan in Mirror Pond. Court members will be available . This year courts members come from local high schools in Sisters, Redmond, Bend and LaPine, having been nominated by their teachers and counselors. Final court selections will come in early June.

Tuesday August 14th the court will be making appearances throughout the county.

Wednesday August 15th brings back the sumptuous old time BBQ and the incredible Old West Shootout in downtown Bend. Come see the Horse Ridge Pistoleros with their guns blazing as they tame the old west. Two shows available.

Thursday August 16th the court will appear at Munchin Music in Drake Park.

Friday August 17th the Twilight Parade will wind through downtown Bend ending with the coronation of this years King and Queen.

Saturday morning the 18th dawns early with the running of the second annual Gravity Drag races. Children 8 to 14 will race in their derby cars down Revere Street to the cheering of residents and on lookers alike. The historic fashion show will be held in the afternoon; the day will closes with the Queens Dance–an event for the whole family.

Sunday morning the 19th join us for the first annual “Foot Race Classic.” Promotion and financial backing for this 5K-run/walk event comes from the Athletic Club of Bend. The excitement continues from noon to 5:00 pm with the Greatest Little Golf Tournament in the West. Join us for 10 holes of “Golf Around Bend”. We guarantee this will be a challenge for any golfer and the prizes at each hole are fabulous. Fun for the whole family! There will be an old fashioned hot dog and hamburger feed served family style, ice cream and drinks on the banks of the Deschutes.

Revival of the Water Pageant was designed as the Signature fundraiser for the Victims Assistance of Deschutes County. The Foundation is the sole recipient of all proceeds from this event. This state mandated program is carried under the District Attorneys office and provides a total support system for victims of all crimes in this county. We honor the work of these people and hope through community support we can present them with a generous check for their work next year.

It is important to note that this event is being designed and brought to the community by a dedicated group of local youth, ages 15 to 18. The work from the Youth Council last year set an example of quality, professionalism and true community spirit. Some of the youth from last year are returning from college to help out again this year with the event.

Source: The Bend Bugle