Pageant Memories

  • I can’t help but think of the time that Diane S. came to me with the article from the Lutheran Witness that spoke of the long-lived Pageant of Christ’s Birth in Chicago has been closed after many years of production because of changing demographics.  She said to me, “You know How to do this, let’s do it!”  Months later Diane said “I have Good News, and Bad News”  I am dying of cancer and have scant time to live, and the good news is that I want to see the Pageant before I’m gone with my sons as wise men”.

    Months later, Diane got to see her beloved husband mounted on a stallion in the first Immanuel Lutheran Pageant of Christ's Birth in deep snow  December, 1982 along with the wise men coming to the King, she would see her sons in the role  before she was summoned  home.
    I recall one night of the  Pageant she hugged me and wept, and wept, and I still weep today when I think of her.

 

  • The Pageant of Christ’s Birth got its’ start in a humble little village adjacent the City of Chicago where I had been given the mandate to start a church.  Ultimately, we found a property where we could build and shortly before Christmas in the late 1960’s we created a rudimentary manger scene near the highway adjacent the property. The Holy family in plywood cut-outs amidst strewn hay.  Then I got a brain-wave:  I had vicared in downstate Illinois, knew some farmers and managed to borrow a small calf for the scene.
    WELL, things got crazy. City people don’t get to see any farm animals except perhaps in the zoo.

 

     Long story short, in subsequent years we added ups to 40 costumed nativity peoples accompanied by a soundtrack of well-known Christmas carols and featuring         only the words of Holy Scripture telling of THE events of His birth, all highlighted with follow spots.  Soon crowds demanded a better venue, and we created an           amphitheatre that allowed standing room for as many as 1500 for each performance.  The animals multiplied. nearly 30 head ultimately…sheep goats, cows                 (including a milking cow), horses for the Wisemen, and of course a donkey for Mary.  Through the 79’s it was performed 3 times each the nights of Dec 19th thru          the 23rd for literally thousands and my parish, The Lutheran Church of the became really quite famous for it.

 

     HOWEVER, changing demographics and the horrors of an advancing drug culture led to the dissolution of the Pageant in the 80’s.  Its’ demise was written up in     

     The Lutheran Witness and was read by one Diane S.…and you know the rest of the story.

 

     I thank the Lord for such a wonderful adventure that I’ve enjoyed.

 

 

  • Pageant planning began summer of 1981 - comments were made about having an outdoor children’s Christmas program -Pastor Theo told us of the Pageant his church in Chicago did which stopped after 15 years- At the Sept. church board meeting Theo, Diana S., Donna U. (youth worker) & myself approached the board about pageant & asked for $2400 to rent speakers, spotlights, lumber to build stage & costumes. Board approved $1200. Our prayer for God’s will was that we would have every person on the board’s approval - every board member approved

 

     Pageant committee was created under the Evangelism board consisting of a food committee, costume committee, animal committee, secretary, makeup     

     committee, manger committee

 

     Theo was the director; Diana was the coordinator. 

     All cast were given a Biblical name.

     We had the fellowship board provide 5 meals for cast members. Evangelism board would meet & greet the crowd that were invited down to the fellowship hall for       hot chocolate & Christmas baking- church ladies supplied baking- church members cleaned the church, washed costumes prayed for God’s will for the Pageant       

     which involved all the members of the church. The 2nd weekend in Dec was chosen so the first Sunday afternoon was Pageant walk thru - Friday night was dress   

     rehearsal & 2 - 6pm Saturday cast & 7pm Sunday cast. - after a number of years with feed back from the cast we added a third performance 8 pm. 

     Cast was: - Mary, Joseph, innkeeper, Anna & Simeon, 2 shepherds, 2 children shepherd helpers (had to be in grade 3), 3 kings & 3 kings’ helpers.

 

     Crew: Men built the manger scene with new lumber - Ron scorched the lumber with a torch. Dean T. built the star & the sound board & he also supplied the   

     lantern for the innkeeper. Ron built the cross for the top of the church. Rented lights & speakers from Parkland Audio. Mary B. & Marg K. found fabric & sewed all   

     the costumes for the cast, burlap was used to cover footwear.

     Donations of curtains & jewellery 

     Glen H. made the soldiers helmets when Theo added Centurions 

     The large red can - we use as one of the kings’ gifts was from my mother’s (Ruth D./ J.) can collection

     Horses from Doug & Yvonne H. & a Bethlehem donkey from Sewell’s donkey farm. 

     Jim S. & Doug & Yvonne H. holding the horses between performances

     First Year Mary and Joseph were Ron K. & Millie H., Dave & Linda

     1983 - Diana went to be with the Lord & was healed of her brain cancer,

      I took over as coordinator. 

  • Fond memories through the 80s and 90s

     -Garry G. storing the manger on his property & his men delivering the manger before the walk thru. 

     -Jim K. in charge of manger set up & Lorne S. helping with set up


     -Getting the miniature horses & donkeys from? (Ask Robert H.)

     Chasing sheep down the back alley 


     The goat eating the guardian angel’s costume & Pastor Tim poking it with his staff to get it to stop. 

     Our beautiful banner quilted by Lorraine S. & me believe Deanna F.??


     In 1988 Pastor Tim was chosen as lead shepherd & welcomed everyone down for hot chocolate & baking before the start this has continued with Pastor Jim &     

     Pastor Brian - God’s chosen shepherd for our church. 


     -For the first 15 years I went to every performance & cried on the last one on Sunday night. (Didn’t want it to be over)


     We approached the neighbours around our church - inviting them to watch & give the dates & times and requesting their Christmas lights be turned off for 2 hrs.         The town was approached & we got special permission to block off the back alley for performances

     Called TransAlta about shutting of streetlights at our 4 ways stop. The lights switches were put lower on the poles for easy access for our light team.

     Our youth (lights team) did such an inspired job - as well as our sound booth crew 


     The Mountaineer always sent a reporter every year. The recreation board gave us free advertising on banner at the bottom of Main Street.

     Every person in the church was contacted to see if they wanted to be in Pageant. 

     1987 Theo left & Else S. took over as director - Six angels, Titus the proclaimer, Herod & Bethlemites.  More names & costumes made. Rena W. took over   

     costumes. Lynne, Deanna, Darlene also helped sew costumes. The ladies that helped all the cast members get their costumes on, sent them to makeup before   

     their headdresses went on. And then put the headdresses on

     Our light crew set up the light stands

     Photos taken of the whole cast just before the show started each night.

     After Else S. directing 

     Then Henry & Karen took over directing.

     Next Tim & Rudy - directors

     Tara took over coordinating when I moved 

     Now Karen & Janice coordinators 

     Adam & Lisa directors – 

 

  • Humorous Memories Through the years - Submitted by Marlene D.

     Mike 4 years old at the time sat amazingly quiet watching the whole first pageant & didn’t recognize his dad - watched the 2nd performance after he saw his dad   

     in costume between performances. 

     Years later Mike’s daughter Tailynn was sitting on Aunty Karlene’s knee in the stands before the first performance Karlene showed her the sheep - Tailynn got all   

     excited, shaking & pointing yelling ‘Daddy shoot it, shoot it’ all our family & most of the crowd laughed. Her parents were hunters.


     We used a mountain scene that had been made for the summer VBS - set up close to the mound where the Angel spoke to Mary. Think it was the 2nd     

     performance - & over the walk-in talkies we hear Tom M. say, “watch out the mountain is coming down” - lots of wind during that performance. 

     Chasing sheep down the back alley 

     The goat eating the guardian angel’s costume & Pastor Tim poking it with his staff to get it to stop. 

     Angel Gabriel missing one of his cues & running through the fellowship hall to get to the East stage.


     Congregation laughing at me when I said the first year that I needed everyone to find me at the back of the church when they came so I could “tick them off”. I 

     forgot to say, …off my list.
 

     At the end when the Bethlehemites raise their hands in praise to God & you see the babies in mother’s arms raising their arms 


     Every person in the church was involved whether acting, baking, working behind the scenes on lights makeup costumes or praying


     Through all of my time being part of Pageant, our precious Lord taught me that He wanted the pageant & to trust Him to make it happen - He was faithful & has   

     made it happen for 40 years. 

     How we thought we did it ourselves - He made it all happen!

     We are & were blessed to be a blessing!! 

  

  • Remembering Pageant Faithful People Through the Years

     Faith doing makeup 
     Linda & Lily doing makeup and helping wherever needed
     Karlene doing makeup
     Ruth decorating the fellowship hall.


     Making cabbage rolls at Karen & Henry’s for one of the meals of pageant – yummy


     All of us praying for Fred to get on the horse safely when he was the red costume king. 

     When the bethlemites divided into two groups & walked through the crowd to the market building

     Tim made DVD in 2004


     We gave videos to the good Sam & the lodge so their residents could watch. 


     Our caretakers who cleaned the church


     Terry D. welding costume racks & remaking the others to fit in our elevator. 


     Food bank donations accepted ongoing every year 

  * Ericka fondly remembers the special year that Wayne was Joseph and Loraine was Mary and how beautiful the evening was, it was very calm. Mary and Joseph     

    looked so wonderful in the light as the snow was gently falling. A memory she will never forget.

    For many many years Ericka recalls her time as a greeter at Pageant. She enjoyed talking with the people and helping them get to their seats. Some years the

    weather was very pleasant but other years it was more challenging but Ericka always braved the weather.  What a blessing she is!