Bend’s Mirror Pond pageant is in serious trouble.
Its in trouble for several reasons, but primarily because it has outlasted its usefulness.
Back in the early 1930’s, the pageant came into existence primarily as a home show, for the amusement of local people. it was a move to keep more people In town over the holidays, in the era when it was customary for a great many to head for the hills, with their camp outfits and fishing gear.
Over a period of years, pageants thrilled home folks and visitors.·The blazing arch pleased thousands, the slow-moving floats were majestic against the dark background of water and trees.
Residents of Bend gave full support to the show over- a period of many years. They purchased tickets. They helped with donated labor.
But the attitude of the public has changed. The shows from year to year are much the same. The great auroral arch· with-its ever changing colors remains a thing of beauty. And so do the mother swan and her cygnets, with queen and princesses riding through the river fairyland.
However, Bend residents have seen these same shows before. No longer willl the majority even pay the $l admission charge. Instead, they look over the fences by the hundreds, just to check and make certain that something new hasn’t been added.
There will be those who argue that the river pageants are not Intended for the home people: they are for the visitor. It was expected that In Oregon’s centennial year of l959 visitors would attend by the thousands.
Possibly the total number of visitors to the 1959 pageant con be placed not around 800. Two years ago when pine cones were provided for visitors, only 600 were given away.
It is becoming evident that home folks will no longer support the show, bear their part of the cost or give or their time. Attendance from outside points is not big enough to meet the ever-mounting costs.
As a result, the Bend Mirror Pond pageant Is In trouble. For the second consecutive year, an imposing deficit has been faced. The deficit this year was over the $3,000 mark.
For the past several years, the Bend Chamber of Commerce has been sponsoring the pageant. Hard-working Pageantarlans have given of their time -and In some Instances of their money.
Two years of heavy deficits have changed the pageant, with its swans and cygnets, into a sort of albatross which dangles around the Chamber’s neck.
What is to be done?
If the Mirror Pond Pageant, acclaimed by first-nighters as one of the grandest shows of its kind in the west, is to be salvaged, there must be some drastic changes.
Possibly a change In format would be the solution. But this Is doubtful as long as people can look over the fence by thousands without paying a single cent to make a presentation possible.
Possibly a pledge bf renewed cooperation by the general public would be the solution, but this can hardly be expected. This past season there were many pleas for such support, but they were in vain.
Pageantarians attempted to guarantee the continuance of the pageants by having the project underwritten. But people who signed those pledges are not paying. So far, only one-third have paid.
Yes, the Mirror Pond Pageants are in grave trouble.
Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1959
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