In 1946 the war had ended only a few months before. The nation was slowly recovering, and moving back to a peace-time economy. The low summer tourism had proved that Seaside, if it was to recover its position as the leading beach resort in the state, must act, quickly and effectively.
During the summer Max Schafer, then a member of the chamber board, suggested the appointment of a special events committee, to plan events for the following year which would not only attract visitors but provide publicity for the community. He was promptly named chairman of the committee by chamber president, C.C. McGee.
The committee worked all winter and planned various special events occurring every two weeks from the middle of June until after Labor Day. The committee scheduled the events, and then named sub-committees to perfect the plans and carry them out.
In the search of ideas Schafer decided to investigate the possibility of participating in the Miss America program. At his request the chamber manager wrote to the Miss America organization requesting information. In return the chamber not only received information, but a franchise for the Miss Oregon Pageant.
The special events committee appointed a sub-committee to organize the pageant which was scheduled for the following July. Merrill Meade, then chamber manager requested to be made chairman and M.C. Thorn was also named to the committee. The members of that original committee shifted constantly and at one time or another twenty persons or so were involved.
During the spring of 1947 it became apparent that the methods of promotion were not getting the hoped for results. A leadership change was made with Thorn taking the helm (as well as serving as producer and master of ceremonies), and as a result of his vigorous promotion the committee was successful in obtainingcooperation from a number of communities. Mrs. Thorn was chairman of the hostess committee and was extremely active in producing the pageant. Lenora Slaughter, head of the Miss America Pageant Hostess Committee, visited Seaside in February, 1947, and provided a great deal of help and advice to the local committee.
Thorn remained chairman of the Miss Oregon committee for two years, after which he was transferred to The Dalles. While he was no longer able to head the committee he continued to be master of ceremonies until his death. When he left, Schafer was made chairman of the committee, a position which he held for eight years, with one year intervening when the chamber manager took over. The pageant was carried out successfully during those years although it was done under a great deal of difficulty. Yet during these pioneering days three of Oregon's representatives placed amongst the top ten at the Miss America Pageant and one became the first runner-up.
Because of the challenges the chamber was delighted to turn over the pageant to the Seaside chapter of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, with the hope that the affiliation this organization shared with dozens of similar groups throughout the state would increase cooperation and result in even greater success. This hope has been fully realized and the Miss Oregon Pageant has become one of the most outstanding events of it kind in the United States.
One Miss Oregon, Katie Harman Ebner, has gone on to become Miss America. Competing as Miss Oregon 2001, she was crowned Miss America shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Katie dedicated her year to inspiring Americans and serving as a beacon of hope as our country recovered from one of our greatest tragedies.
"She flies with her own wings."