|The Dunes Under Four Flags, The Historical Pageant of the Dunes, 1917
On Memorial Day in 1917, Prairie Club members staged a massive festival on Waverly Beach in the Dunes in an effort to generate public support for a national park. Attracting an audience of more than 40,000 enthusiastic supporters from throughout the region, the pageant represented the pinnacle of early Dunes preservationists' optimism. In an amphitheater of sand, nearly a thousand actors portrayed Indians, European explorers and fur traders, U. S. soldiers, and city planners, while dancers performed the roles of waves, wind, nymphs, birds, and "tree hearts," in a representation of "the march of civilization to and through the region." The final scene of the pageant--in which the developers of City West (a city founded in the 1830s to compete with Chicago) realize that their dream city is doomed to failure--concludes with a clear message on behalf of Dunes preservation. "I never believed down in my heart," one of City West's developers admits, "that we could tame these sands to city ways . . . They're beautiful, but God made them just to play in the breeze."
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