Every year in July, The Mormon Church sponsors one of the largest outdoor pageants in the United States. The pageant takes place on a large hill called Cumorah in New York. This hill has great significance, because it is the hill where in about A.D. 420, the Book of Mormon gold plates were buried. Moroni, who was the last survivor of a civilization that had existed since 600 B.C., buried the plates, and then returned in 1827 as a heavenly messenger and entrusted them to Joseph Smith. From the gold plates, the Prophet Joseph Smith was able to translate the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant tells the story of the peoples of the Book of Mormon, how they were guided to the Americas just before the Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem, and the events that followed. The show depicts all of the things that occurred just before and during Christ’s visit to the America’s. It is an inspiring representation of Christ’s divinity and mission.
The pageant is performed on a large ten-level stage, and employs a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, able to create the effects of both earthquakes and lightning. There are about 650 people in the cast.
The pageant had its beginnings in 1917, when a group of missionaries of the Church gathered for a conference to celebrate Pioneer Day (July 24th, the day the Mormon Pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley). In 1934, the conference was moved to Cumorah Hill, and in 1937 volunteers put on the first pageant. Since the beginning, the entire pageant has been put together by volunteers. Over the years, the pageant has been re-written several times.
The pageant’s music, special effects and script were put together by well-known people. Author Orson Scott Card wrote the current script. Eric Fielding designed the stages. The special effects were created by Rick Josephson, and the music was composed by Crawford Gates. The music is performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Salt Lake City Symphony and a children’s choir with over 100 members.
Admission and parking for the pageant are free, there is enough seating for 9,000 people and the pageant starts at 9:15 at night, but it is suggested that guests arrive about 45 minutes early.
See also LDS Pageants