A pageant of Mormon history and mirth

A 75-year-old New York tradition that only looks like the rapture.

Published: Monday, July 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Some of the cast from the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York, perform during one of the performances held in July 2011. Photo by Darren Mathews.

Courtesy Hill Cumorah Pageant Public Affairs, LDS Church News

Enlarge photo»

Our take: Thanks to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney, the 75-year-old Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, N.Y., was suddenly big news this summer. This latest report on the annual event, which concluded over the weekend, comes from the Wall Street Journal.

Every year in mid-July, Jesus descends from the heavens onto a hillside in bucolic western New York. Should they witness the nighttime scene, evangelical Protestants driving along U.S. Route 21 might worry that they have missed the rapture.

Instead, what they have missed is a uniquely American religious festival, concluding its 75th anniversary this weekend. In the Hill Cumorah Pageant, nearly a thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring to life the sacred history of their faith. The pageant takes place near Palmyra, the small town in which Joseph Smith Jr. published the Book of Mormon in 1830.

The Hill Cumorah Pageant is a very different sort of production from Broadway's "The Book of Mormon." The songs are not as snappy, and it's not a comedy. On the other hand, the pageant is free, the seating is ample, and those who attend will learn a great deal more about the Mormon religion and culture.

Read more about A Pageant of Mormon History and Mirth on The Wall Street Journal.

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