One of the region’s big summer tourism draws is coming to an end.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra is a huge theatrical production put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but after 81-years, the church is shutting it down.
“I’m a little shocked,” said former Palmyra Mayor Chris Piccola.
He just learned of the news this morning.
“I think anytime you lose something of that magnitude, it’s a loss to your community,” said Piccola.
Those I spoke with agreed with his assessment.
“It’s a big deal. In the summer in particular. That’s when the Mormons from all over the world come into Palmyra,” said Alison Meckley.
In those weeks, the Village of Palmyra transforms from a small village into a Mormon tourist destination.
“It gets really busy. Sometimes, the roads get a little bit tightened up but it’s all for culture and religion and I think they do a good thing for Palmyra with that,” said Meckley.
“There’s thousands. I’ll be honest, when I was a child, my mother used to rent bedrooms to people that would come from all over the country,” said Piccola.
25,000 people attended the event this summer. With that type of turnout, several local businesses are going to miss out on revenue that they’ve come to expect during the summer leaving the former Palmyra mayor saddened to see it end.
“I’m really sorry it’s going to be gone. It’s something that I’ve grown to know that was going to be here every single year of my lifetime so I think it’s probably going to be missed,” said Piccola.
The Church of Latter Day Saints reviewed all pageants before determining that while local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate, larger productions will be discouraged moving forward.
Pageant President Neil Pitts says the staff at the Hill Cumorah Pageant is supportive of the decision adding, “We had a wonderful run. Our church has asked us to focus more on the family, and this is certainly in line with that desire.”
The last Hill Cumorah Pageant will take place in 2020.