A swan song for Mormons’ Hill Cumorah Pageant

Religion News Service | 7/16/2019 | Staff
TitanSwimr (Posted by) Level 3
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I’ve just returned from a weekend in upstate New York, where I had the privilege of seeing the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra. Staged there since 1937 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the pageant recounts a Cliffs Notes history of the Book of Mormon on a site where one of the book’s great battles is believed to have been fought.

Author with cast members before the pageant.

Privilege - Issues - Pageant - Year - Mormons

I say it was a privilege, because despite some issues with the pageant (outlined below), I’m grateful that I got to see it live in its penultimate year. 2020, which Mormons will celebrate as the 200th anniversary of founding prophet Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” in Palmyra, will be the pageant’s last.

It’s not just Latter-day Saints who are sad to see it go; it’s also some locals in the Palmyra community.

Causes - Rotary - Club - Funds - Pageant

Some of the charitable causes that the local Rotary Club supports with funds raised during the pageant.

We arrived quite early to get seats; it turned out there was no need for this as there were plenty of seats left unclaimed by sundown. But the early-bird advantage was in talking to folks, especially some of the hundreds of cast members. These volunteers from all over the country are sometimes from families where pageant participation has become a tradition.

College - Student - Father - Colorado - Month

I spoke with a college student and his father from Colorado who are living this month in the empty dorm rooms of a local community college while they take part in the spectacle. It seemed to be a wonderful intergenerational bonding experience. Other participants bring RVs or tents and make their temporary home in a park nearby that has been nicknamed “Zion’s Camp,” referring to an 1834 overland journey that Joseph Smith took with some of his closest (and most quarrelsome) followers. It sounded...
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