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The Way of the Cross
Pawnee Rock's sunrise Easter pageant returns
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The Pawnee Rock Ministerial Alliance will present a sunrise pageant on Easter Sunday, April 21. In this photo from rehearsals, The Stranger (Scott Loving) visits with children Tenley Loving and Quintin Heath. In the background are Aaron Withrow, who plays John, and Tricia Prescott, seated, who has the role of Salome.

PAWNEE ROCK — “The Way of the Cross,” an Easter pageant, will be presented at 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 21, at the Pawnee Rock Historical Site, one mile north of U.S. 56 on Centre St.,  Pawnee Rock. Those planning to attend should bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for seating.

Berny Unruh, one of the organizers of this year’s program, said the community of Pawnee Rock has produced a sunrise Easter pageant since 1936. It is hosted by the Pawnee Rock Ministerial Alliance – Pawnee Rock Christian Church and The New Jerusalem Church. 

This community tradition ran almost every year between 1936 and 1976, with a few years missed during World War II. It was revived in 1981 and has been held every other year since then.

“It’s been the same script all these years,” said Dale Unruh, Berny’s father and another of the organizers, along with Roy and Tricia Prescott. Dan Heath is the director. The audience arrives before sunrise, which will be at 6:51 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The pageant takes place on the side of the hill. Three crosses are placed at the top of “the rock.”

“Vivian Bright was the organizer for many years,” Berny Unruh said.

A community choir directed by Jenny Wilson, a former Pawnee Rock resident, will provide music.

“Many of the community members return year after year to play their role,” Berny Unruh said. “Carl Helm has been in the play for many years and now his daughter travels back home at Easter to join the cast. We have lost members over the years and continue to host the pageant to honor their memory.”

Tricia Prescott will play the part of Salome — a part that her mother Vivian played for many years. Dale Unruh has a part as a Pharisee. 

McKenzie Galliart and Danette Unruh were both children in the play in 2003 and have returned to play the parts of a mother and the Spirit of Easter. 

“Dean and Greta Lakin have graciously agreed to open up the Depot for coffee and donuts immediately after the pageant,” Unruh said. 

“The Way of the Cross” was written in 1932 by Dorothy Clarke Wilson (1904-2003). Wilson is best known for her 1949 novel “Moses, The Prince of Egypt,” which was a primary source for the Cecil B. DeMille film “The Ten Commandments” in 1956.

Cast of Characters:        

The Spirit of Easter - Danette Unruh            

Stranger - Scott Loving                 

Gauis (Roman Soldier) - Tyson Callaway            

Marcellus - John Thomas            

Pharisee 1 - Dale Unruh                

Pharisee 2 - Doug Harter                 

Mother 1 - Megan Alexander            

Mother 2 - McKenzie Galliart                          

Children - Quintin Heath, Tenley Loving, James Alexander

Mary Magdalene - Nicolette Unruh            

Salome - Tricia Prescott            

Mary, Mother of James - Amanda Loving

Joseph of Arimathea - Patrick Heath            

Peter - Carl Helm                

John - Aaron Withrow           

Electrical - Hammeke Electric            

Sound- Gary Parr