Pageant attendance follows
recent trend upward to 76,730
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—The weather was great, the cast was committed and the community support was exceptional during this year’s Mormon Miracle Pageant, according to Pageant President Milton Olsen.
Even better, Olsen says, the estimated attendance of 76,730 was up from 2017, showing a consistent pattern of rising attendance going back to 2015.
Attendance is estimated by an assigned Pageant counter who uses mathematical methods to estimate the number of people in various seating sections.
In 2014, estimated attendance hit a low of 65,020. But it went back up to 70,600 in 2015, 74,600 in 2106 and 74,804 in 2017.
One night, Friday, June 22 (the second Friday), made the difference this year, Olsen says. “It was the largest night in four or five years.”
While the crowds were better this year, the performance was also more consistent.
Typically, two-thirds of the performers are returnees who have performed in previous pageants, Olsen says. Last year, there were several changes in the narration tape. The changes were minor, but they affected what performers needed to do on the Temple Hill.
This year, there were no changes in the tape. “There were fewer unknowns, which made for consistency. That helped the performance,” he says.
Olsen says there were about 700 participants this year in the cast and stage crew, down from as many as 1,000 in recent years.
Because of the pageant’s reliance on returnees, when, for instance, a family that has performed in a given scene for several years does not participate the next year, there can be a noticeable hole on the hill, and other cast members have to reposition themselves to fill in the space.
“But it didn’t feel like any of the group scenes were smaller than usual,” he says. More performers were participating in multiple scenes and that was one of the Pageant presidency’s goals for this year.
There are always a couple of “big labor days” when people from LDS wards throughout Manti and Ephraim are called in to set up chairs and scenery, and later to take them down, he says. “This year, I really believe we had more than ever.”