PAWNEE ROCK — A sunrise pageant is planned for Easter morning at the Pawnee Rock State Historic Site, one-half mile north of U.S. 56 and the town of Pawnee Rock. The pageant starts at 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 5.
The pageant is best enjoyed by arriving early with lawn chairs and blankets. If there is rain or snow, the pageant will be at New Jerusalem Church, 300 Santa Fe Ave., Pawnee Rock.
The Easter pageant, “The Way of the Cross,” has been performed at historic Pawnee Rock since 1936, with it now being presented only on the odd numbered years. It is sponsored by the Pawnee Rock Ministerial Alliance, Christian Church and New Jerusalem Church.
Coordinator Vivian Bright said there are about 18 characters in this year’s pageant, which is always a moving and impressive Easter sunrise experience. There are period costumes for Roman soldiers, Pharisees, women and disciples from the Easter story. Other characters are Joseph of Arimathea, the Stranger and the Spirit of Easter. It has been said that the landscape at “The Rock” is similar to the countryside surrounding Jerusalem where the original events of the story took place.
Dan Heath is the pageant director and Pat Springer is the music director of a community choir singing favorite Easter hymns.
In 2013, Elaine Mull was the pageant’s music director and sent this description of the upcoming program:
A hush falls on everyone as the choir begins to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” A Stranger appears dressed in modern clothes. Struggling with the veracity of the Easter Story, the Stranger says, “If one could only know that all these things once happened.”
Everyone is then drawn into the story as the actors sweep back the curtain of the years and invite all to walk in the way of the cross.
For the setting the audience is seated with their backs to the rising sun. The sun slowly brightens the face of The Rock where the actors, garbed in elaborate period costumes, move about. Traditional hymns and contemporary music strengthen the story as it culminates in “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” sung by all.
Glenn and Elaine Mull, their daughter Amy Harter and granddaughter Samantha Harter all perished in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 2014, in Tennessee. They and another family member had all been involved in the pageants, with parts in the play or the choir. Their presence will be missed, Bright said. “They were a big part of it.”
But, as the sun rises this Sunday on the Rock, a community’s decades-old tradition and the message of a timeless 2,000-year-old story will continue.