MANTI— After more than 50 years of entertaining and educating crowds on events from Book of Mormon scripture and the pioneers' journey to the Sanpete Valley, the Mormon Miracle Pageant had its final curtain call Saturday.
The production has attracted some through much of their lives, and their children after them, on through generations.
"My parents were in it from the very beginning," said Doug Dyreng, former president of the pageant. "And frankly stayed involved until they died."
More than 50 years ago, the pageant started with community members gathering together to celebrate their pioneer heritage. Today, a cast of more than 1,100 volunteers depicts iconic scenes from the Book of Mormon in front of the Manti temple.
"I think that's one of the miracles is that it's done here with what people would consider nothing," said Merilyn Jorgensen, pageant historian. "That's one of the biggest miracles, is the fact that it touches so many thousands of people, one way or another so they want to serve. They want to be part of it because it is something really special."
Cast members and volunteers say the pageant is an opportunity for them to talk to people from all over the world about their beliefs without serving as full-time missionaries.
The pageant is inspired by local author Grace Johnson's booklet, "The Mormon Miracle."
Last year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the pageant would be discontinued.
The Hill Cumorah, the Castle Valley, and the Clarkston pageants were also canceled.
This is part of the church's focus to encourage members and leaders “to participate in Sabbath worship and the church’s supporting programs for children, youth, individuals and families,” the statement says. "Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged."
Contributing: Sam Penrod, KSL TV