Bear with us while we get a little aspirational here. There will be exclamation marks!
This month, the work on the trails hugging Mirror Pond is causing water levels to be low in that part of our beloved Deschutes River. That is causing evidence of the past to show up – namely, the pilings that once held up the docks that were part of Bend's annual Water Pageant – a cultural touchstone for Bend until the mid-1960s.
Ignore the ugly sight of un-dredged, muddy waters and rickety old wood docks and start to dream, here, Bend: Wouldn't it be great to bring back the Water Pageant?!
This wouldn't just be about beauty queens parading on the river; instead, it could introduce new forms of "beauty queens," reminding people about the importance of salmon and trout and other aquatic life.tweet this
Imagine! Kids and adults dressed in their water-friendly finest, paddling on their various watercrafts through a beautiful arch designed to display the beauty of Bend; the Three Sisters framed in the background like so many idyllic scenes displayed on the bottles of our favorite local Pale Ale. People gathered around to celebrate the river, to honor the waters that bring so many visitors to our lovely burg each year. It would be glorious! It could be a celebration of how Water is Life! It could re-ignite our collective love for that most basic of human needs, its evidence flowing right through town!
It would be a reminder of the past but also a celebration of the future. This wouldn't just be about beauty queens parading on the river; instead, it could introduce new forms of "beauty queens," reminding people about the importance of salmon and trout and other aquatic life. It could offer opportunities for local nonprofits to share their stories of how they work to protect the waters of Central Oregon. Indigenous peoples of the region could similarly share their stories of the importance of water and the local rivers. The event could also include a community-wide "River Day" river cleanup – hearkening back to another local event that has gone by the wayside in recent years.
In short, a renewed Water Pageant could bring back the community spirit that the past pageant had, but added to it would be a modern twist.
Of course, we don't want to get too rah-rah without a little practicality. The pilings that mark the remnants of a mid-century pageant are currently pretty dangerous and can be a hazard for people on small watercrafts. Messing with the pilings, difficult to remove and potentially considered "historic," could be a headache. In terms of financials, past Water Pageants were funded by private businesspeople; another potential hurdle. Fortunately, in our modern age, our present tourism surge could help with funds. We see no reason why a group of private citizens couldn't apply for a Bend Cultural Tourism grant – a pot of money funded by tourism dollars that continues to grow every year – to help fund the effort in homage of our most precious of natural resources. It would only take the will and the enthusiasm of a few passionate individuals to make this happen.
Since the topic is water and there is no more precious resource on Earth, Bend could very well see this popular project from the past brought into the modern day. Who's with us?!