LDS Church cancels Hill Cumorah Pageants last run due to covid

The Hill Cumorah Pageant, which started in 1937, has been canceled, with no other production anticipated in the future. Due to the pandemic, the last 2021 run of shows will not be produced.

Tourists and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hoping to see the last presentation of the Hill Cumorah Pageant will be disappointed with the announcement from church headquarters Tuesday.

Due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular pageant, which was scheduled to have its final season in 2021, has been canceled and will not be held in future years, according to a church statement.

Instead of a live performance one more time, the LDS Church will broadcast the 2019 Hill Cumorah Pageant beginning July 9 on http://broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The video also will be dubbed in Spanish and Portuguese. More information on this production is forthcoming.

In describing the grandeur and pageantry of the Hill Cumorah experience, earlier church information indicates that the pageant, with its seven performances, was the largest outdoor pageant in America.

Each year it featured a cast of over 700 volunteers, portraying events from the Bible and the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The 90-minute performance was staged a few miles from Palmyra, New York, on the Hill Cumorah, southeast of Rochester, N.Y.

The pageant was performed nightly accept Sundays during mid-July each year.

The production featured a 10-level stage, 50-foot light towers, brilliant costumes and stunning special effects performed to an audience in the thousands, according to the church.

“A Hollywood production team designed the special effects, including waterfalls, water screens, volcanoes, fireballs and explosions. An estimated 500,000 watts of electricity were required to power each performance,” said one church report. “As an illustration of the magnitude of these spectacular effects, pageant organizers were required to obtain clearance from U.S. aviation authorities before the show’s opening night.”

“It’s a delightful experience because of the commitment and sacrifice of the pageant leaders, the work crew and the cast. I’m impressed with the dedication and the commitment of hundreds of people,” said A. Bryan Weston, director of the historical sites at Palmyra, where the first church pageant was performed in 1937.

Hill Cumorah is one of the LDS Church’s most significant landmarks. Latter-day Saints believe that near this area the church’s founder, Joseph Smith Jr., received a record of ancient American peoples from an angel. That record, written on gold plates, was translated into what is known as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Most church pageants were discontinued in 2018 and 2019. The Nauvoo Pageant will be postponed until July 5-30, 2022.

The British Pageant will continue every four years under area leadership. The next showing is scheduled for 2022. Specific dates will be released later.

The Mesa Pageant has not been held since renovation of the Mesa Temple began in 2018. After the temple renovation is complete, the pageant will continue annually under area leadership.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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