The Miracle of Sacrifice
Among one of the most impressive parts of the Mormon Miracle Pageant is how one small community can put on a production with 1,133 cast members and 1,000+ makeup artists, sound technicians, lighting specialists, costume designers, and traffic controllers.
Seventy-five percent of the cast is 18 or younger. While most kids are sleeping in during the summer or on vacation, the kids in Manti are up late performing and up early rehearsing or cooking charity breakfasts. In fact, every morning during the pageant, the Primary kids in Manti are at the temple by 7 a.m. cleaning up the grounds for the temple patrons that day.
No one in Manti takes vacations when school ends and summer begins. This was even truer back when the pageant lasted two months instead of just two weeks.
"It took our whole summer. No one took any vacations. Summer was pageant time. All the kids knew that and that was their summer and they loved it," said Merilyn Jorgensen, who is currently writing a book on the history and stories of the pageant.
And in all these years, with hundreds of boys carrying wooden swords, with handcarts, and even with pyrotechnics, only one bone has been broken by a cast member.
Fun Fact: The actor who plays the angel Moroni and stands on a platform at the top of the temple used to stand on a tiny wooden platform with no gate and only someone holding onto his ankles to make sure he didn't fall. With storms and winds blowing, the safety features have been updated, so now Moroni wears a full-body harness.
But Manti natives are not the only one's who sacrifice for the pageant. People from all over come to volunteer and perform. This year a father and son from New Mexico came to participate.
Robert Reuel and his son Paris decided that they would have a summer of service this year. While thinking of where they might want to volunteer, Robert received inspiration in the temple that he should check into pageants. With a quick Google search, the Manti Miracle Pageant was the first to pop up, and everything worked perfectly with the timing.
And the father and son have found even more than they were expecting: "We came here so my son could make some new friends," Robert says. "The kids here are wonderful. He's disappeared now—I never see him during the day; he's off visiting with friends and it's been a wonderful experience for him." The two plan to continue the summer helping family members move, volunteering at national parks, and serving with Mormon Helping Hands.