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Hill Cumorah Pageant to end run after 81 years.

Byline: Velvet Spicer

The popular Hill Cumorah Pageant is slated to end its run after the 2020 season, pageant officials announced last weekend.

Produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Hill Cumorah Pageant was staged annually in Manchester, Ontario County. The production is a re-enactment of the Book of Mormon. Its 81st season wrapped in July with roughly 25,000 people in attendance.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing across the earth. As this occurs, local church leaders and members are encouraged to focus on gospel learning in their homes and to participate in Sabbath worship and the church's supporting programs for children, youth, individuals and families," LDS Church officials said in a statement Saturday. "Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged."

Officials said where existing pageants are run, conversations with local church and community leaders are underway to "appropriately end, modify or continue these productions."

"We had a wonderful run," pageant President Neil Pitts said, noting that Hill Cumorah staff is supportive of the decision. "Our church has asked us to focus more on the family, and this is certainly in line with that desire. We have had a wonderful 81 years and will focus on making the next two years an amazing experience for our cast, crew and audience."

The pageant's departure will affect community partners, and staff is sensitive to that, Pitts said. As the largest outdoor theatrical event in North America, Hill Cumorah has an all-volunteer cast of roughly 750 people. Local service groups in the Palmyra and Manchester areas provide concessions during the pageant, and it serves as those groups' largest fundraiser.

"We have been blessed by exceptional relationships with our friends in Manchester and Palmyra," he added. "We thank those communities for their years of generous support and we will continue to work with them on future endeavors." / 585-653-4021

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

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Author:Spicer, Velvet
Publication:Rochester Business Journal
Date:Oct 29, 2018
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