MANTI — The long-storied history of how the Mormon Miracle Pageant came to be has been put to pen and ink, typed, edited and printed. With expert editing and lay-out assists from Rebecca Jorgensen, Celia Bishop, and Darl Mangleson, and professional printing by Peczuh Printing of Utah and Colorado, the book is now available to purchase. The size of the book required a sewn binding, which was done by Roswell Bookbinding in Phoenix, Arizona.
Interested pageant history buffs are encouraged to order as soon as possible as copies are limited. Price is $69.99, including tax, plus $11.95 for shipping. To order online, visit https://squareup.com/store/mantipageant. The book will also be available during the pageant at a booth west of the seating area.
For more information or to order, call (435) 835-5872.
Pageant book history
In 2014, Merilyn was called by the pageant presidency to serve as editor-in-chief to create a book for publication, which would highlight the history of the pageant, people and stories.
Merilyn Jorgensen, Manti, and her family have been heavily involved in the pageant since the first production in 1967. She has served as pageant historian since 2000, and over the years, has collected and preserved hundreds of photos, publications and articles on the pageant.
Jorgensen encouraged all of those who have been a part of the pageant in any capacity to record their memories of the people, events and impressions they experienced.
In addition to recording memories, people were encouraged to share any recorded notes for possible inclusion in the commemorative publication and to pass the request onto family and friends.
There were a lot of topics to be considered for the book, for instance, some questions asked included, “In what ways were people and or family members involved with the Mormon Miracle Pageant, and in what years?” or, “Did someone have pageant experiences, feelings or observations that impacted their testimony or actions?”
Everyone was encouraged to share memories such as weather, interesting or inspirational incidents, or people who touched a life, or to tell about responsibilities or experiences in production areas of the pageant, such as director, actor, costuming, stage or prop crew, lighting, chaperon or supervisor, make-up, etc.
Remembrances of support services such as Ladies’ Guild, language service, ushering, food service, search and rescue or EMT, or cast bus driver were received, as were memories concerning friendships, romances, and so forth.
Other questions considered were: Where was costume checkout located? What rules are recalled from being on the ‘hill?’ Where were people allowed to walk or sit in order to not be seen by the audience? How close were the Lamanites allowed to be to the Nephites? What were some rules behind the downstage wings?
Was there anything people had to give up or that might be considered a difficulty in order to participate in pageant and was it worth it? Did the pageant impact missionary service? What feelings did someone experience in later summers when they were not longer able to be part of pageant?
During the Mormon Miracle Pageant’s half-century span, there have been thousands of good people, unsung and largely unnoticed, heroes working behind the scenes of production. For over 50 years, anonymous service has ever been their watchword.
Over time the many collections, recordings, photos, recollections and memories were organized, categorized, edited and have been pressed into the new book, “The Mormon Miracle Pageant: Commemorating 50 years of Miracles”
This 600-page, full-color book offers a comprehensive history of the production’s evolution, with a view to honoring the thousands of participants, unsung workers as well as the behind-the-scene services, of which most are unaware.
Even those who serve in specific sections, such as costuming or food service, likely comprehend little of the particulars going on in other spheres of preparation.
With almost 2,000 photos, the historical, hardcover volume covers the inside story of 50 years of miracles. The narrative adds to the richness of the pageant saga and its gospel message.
Readers should prepare to learn much, laugh some, and perhaps shed a tear or two as they read the tales of sacrifice and dedication, enjoy fun anecdotes, all while being uplifted with spiritual manifestations shared by cast and crew.
About Merilyn Jorgensen
Merilyn Anderson Jorgensen is a native of Manti. She graduated from Manti High School and Snow College, then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from Utah State University in 1960.
Merilyn has been a teacher at Manti High School, Ephraim Middle School and for a short time at Snow College. Subjects she taught included dance, drill team, physical education, health, physiology, English and history.
Her Mormon Miracle Pageant service began as a choir member in 1967. Then she was called as dance director and choreographer, performing and directing until 1992. She then spent eight years in the costume department, and as costume mistress.
In 2000, she was called to become the pageant historian. The call to write and create the volume came in 2014 as the end result of her decades-long connection with the pageant.
In addition to her own half-century of pageant service, Merilyn’s husband, LaMar, their five children and numerous grandchildren are or have also been involved in the annual Mormon Miracle Pageant productions.