With the return of King Varian Wrynn to Stormwind, one of WoW's greatest quest events is no more. I speak of the quest The Great Masquerade, where Marshal Reginald Windsor marches through the streets of Stormwind, and exposes Lady Katrana Prestor as the black dragon Onyxia.
This event was more than most other events in WoW. In a lot of ways, this was WoW's Triumph of the Legions, the ticker-tape parade for the conquering heroes. There are a lot of elements that made this event so special.
First was the decision to put the capital city right next to the starting areas. This meant that there was a whole range of player levels in Stormwind when the event takes place. I remember first seeing it as a very young player, seeing a group of max level players walking through Stormwind in their shiny high-end armor, with the guards all saluting. This event never failed to attract a crowd of people to see the fuss, really emphasizing the sense that this was truly a parade.
From the other side, a player usually completed this quest chain as they hit endgame. In many ways, it functioned as the dividing point, the graduation ceremony, between leveling and the endgame. This quest was the reason the Walk key needed to exist. As well, unlike the raid events, this was accessible to just about everyone. It was also the culmination of a long chain, and Jailbreak was not a trivial quest, so the parade was a worthy reward for the effort.
I think events like these, where the player gets to show off--to strut a bit--in front of the other players are important. It provides incentive and aspiration to the lower level players, and acknowledges the effort of the higher level players. Events like the hanging of Onyxia's or Nefarion's head. I don't think the Burning Crusade really had anything, other than maybe Magtheridon's Head and Kael. But so few people did those bosses, that it didn't have the same feel.
As well, I think the "graduation ceremony" feel, at the edge between 5-man and raid content was important. We mark important transitions with ceremonies, and I think TBC could have used a similar ceremony between raiding and levelling.
I'm kind of sad that the event has gone away, but with 20 extra levels, it doesn't have the same impact it once had. Still, here's to you, Marshal Windsor.