Hill Cumorah Pageant: America’s Largest Outdoor Theatrical Event
The Central New York area is commonly known for its prestigious universities, colleges, and its unique and culturally diverse population. Music and the performing arts are also a big attraction and focus for both visitors and natives of this beautiful region. But did you know that Central New York is also home to America’s largest outdoor theatrical event? For over 80 years, The Hill Cumorah Pageant has been taking place every year in Central New York’s very own backyard in a small town called Palmyra, NY.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant is an annual summer event put on by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the “Mormon Church”, in the month of July. It tells the story of the Book of Mormon which was published in Palmyra in 1830.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant is depicted through a beautifully composed script by award winning author, Orson Scott Card, who based his work from stories told in the Bible and The Book of Mormon, books of scriptures used by the church. Visitors enjoy this marvelous show performed by a fully costumed cast of nearly 750 unpaid volunteers from across the U.S. and internationally. The show features breathtaking light shows and Hollywood special effects designed by Hollywood’s very own Rick Josephson. The Hill Cumorah Pageant is truly a once in a lifetime experience that should not be missed.
“The Pageant acts as an Ambassador for beautiful Central New York, its rich history, and welcoming demeanor,” says Elder Bean.
Elder Stephen Bean, a full-time missionary who worked with the Hill Cumorah Pageant volunteers, stated that, “by attracting close to 70,000 visitors a year during a two-week span in July to the small town of Palmyra, the Hill Cumorah Pageant helps boost the local economy, bring communities together and expose CNY’s greenery and beautiful lakes to people who might have never known what CNY has to offer.” Though the outdoor theatrical performance is indeed a great show for people of all ages, it brings much more to the table than just a good and inspirational time for those who attend.
In addition to creating a sense of community through the pageant, the local Lions and Rotary clubs run the food concession stands and their proceeds are given to local charities. “The Pageant acts as an Ambassador for beautiful Central New York, its rich history, and welcoming demeanor,” says Elder Bean. This in itself speaks to the friendly and family focused attitude that the people of Central New York hold close to their hearts.
The church and other local organizations pull together resources and volunteers to help orchestrate the logistics of this marvelous annual event. These volunteers help with guiding vehicles through parking lots, welcoming people to the pageant, and ushering them to their seats. Elder Bean also states that “as the pageant draws people from different states across the country and internationally, Central New York is exposed and put on the map for its beauty and culture rich background. I am from Seattle, WA, and as a westerner my first thought of the state of New York has always been New York City, but that is not true. New York has much more to offer than that.”
Members of local communities see the pageant as a chance to serve each other and help show the rest of the country what Central New York has to offer. While people initially come to visit Palmyra and the Hill Cumorah Pageant, during their stay they almost always are pulled towards other great neighboring sites and attractions. As Elder Bean states, “people tend to go away with a good feeling, that’s the good part that we intend for.”
To learn more about the Hill Cumorah Pageant, visit the official Hill Cumorah website.