One inauguration stands apart—that of Avery Shaw on Oct. 21, 1927. For that celebration, Denison librarian Annie Mary McNeil devised a pageant titled “The Heritage,” which was performed on the South Plaza. Hundreds sat on the grassy hillside below Doane to hear the University orchestra’s overture, and then to see more than 100 students in elaborate costumes act out three “episodes.” They depicted the heritage of Wisdom and Truth being handed down through the Great Ages of Man.
Here are a few words from Annie McNeil’s prologue, recalling a fine October inaugural day more than 80 years ago:
“Here on this hill, which in the morning glow
Urges achievement high in thought and deed,
Whose sober beauty in the evening light
Makes old men wish for years and what has been,
While young hearts dream
and think the thoughts of youth –
Here, good friends, we greet you, who have come
To pay just honor to a leader new,
A princely gentleman and guide of youth … .
This place our stage, these trees
and slopes touched with
The hand of red October, and this sky,
Our only scenery magnificent.”