MANTI, Utah (ABC4 News) – When it comes to the Mormon Miracle Pageant, there is a lot of history. Fifty-two years of it to be exact.
Over the past five years, Merilyn Jorgensen has been compiling that history and last year she put out this book filled with 50 years of memories and photos.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would be anything except one year,” said Jorgensen.
That’s because the first pageants were humble productions with just a few thousand in the audience, but Merilyn Jorgensen, who sang in the very first pageant, says the pageant took on a life of its own.
“Then after it was over – it was like this is really neat. Then it kept going and growing and growing,” said Jorgensen.
Jorgensen should know. She has been involved for five decades. She watched the pageant grow to multiple shows and tens of thousands attending every year. And when she thought it was time to step aside, she was asked to be the pageant historian.
“I’ve decided that to retire from Pageant in Manti is to die. Ha. That’s the only way out? It’s the only way out,” said Jorgensen.
Since she had been so involved over the years, she thought it would be easy to compile the Miracle Pageant history and create a book with all the memories. She says she was wrong.
“I found I didn’t know half of what was going on. And I thought nobody else does either. They know what goes on in their little circle, but they don’t know what everybody else is doing. And that’s what I wanted to tell,” said Jorgensen.
She says it took three years to learn and write the history. Then another year to do the layout and the photos.
Merilyn says the book is filled with stories about generations of families participating stories about the performers and the production crews. And she says the book also tries to give credit to those who helped make the pageant what it is today.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people here in Manti have donated to food services, traffic control, costume making – nobody even knows how many people have sown costumes,” said Jorgensen.
Merilyn says she is sad to see the pageant come to an end.
“It feels kind of empty now and I guess it will just get worse,” said Jorgensen.
“Next year when this doesn’t happen, I’m sure it will hit and hit hard.”
But she is glad she had a chance to compile and share the pageants history and what it really has meant to Manti.
“Everyone is helping everywhere they can. That’s the miracle – how it has brought the community together.”
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the book, visit http://mantipageant.org.