MANTI, Utah (ABC4 News) – This is the final year of the Mormon Miracle Pageant, and the final year for those who have been part of it for decades. One of those people is Milt Olsen.
He was here for the first pageant in 1967 and as the current president of the Manti pageant will be here when the show comes to an end in two weeks.
“I think it will be a bittersweet experience. In some ways nice to see it go in other ways we will miss it, said Milt Olsen. “It’s one of those things that has been part of my life since I was young, but it’s also been a blessing in my life. There’s going to be a hole there because of that.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced back in December that local celebrations of history and culture were better than larger productions like pageants. Milt says he understands.
“We are a worldwide Church and a worldwide organization. So, the Church headquarters sponsoring a pageant in Manti doesn’t really bless a family in Africa or Australia. It really blesses the local area,” said Olsen.
While he’s OK with the pageant facing a final curtain, he will always have memories of his involvement.
And the 58-year-old says while the pageant is personal, it has also had a major impact on those who have been part of it
“When you bring 1,100 people together for a common purpose – that is a powerful experience,” said Olsen.
While he focuses on the personal experiences, Milt says the pageant has also had an economic impact on Manti.
“It’s one of those things that is difficult to measure. We know the economic impact is real.”
Milt says over the past 50 years an estimated four point five million people have come to watch the pageant. And this year, even though it is the last, he and the 1,100 performers look forward to wrapping up the pageant with eight strong and emotional performances.
“From a simple beginning – it’s changed the lives of millions of people.”
Milt says about 70 percent of the performers live within 30 miles of Manti. The other 30 percent make the trip to rehearse and perform from all over the country.
This year the pageant runs June 13 – June 22. 8 shows. No shows on Sunday or Monday. Gates open at 6 p.m. Shows start at 9:30 p.m.