Bundle up for pageant tonight
Despite getting off to a late start due to Friday night's snowstorm, Saturday morning's rehearsal for Jamestown's annual Christmas pageant was good preparation for tonight's event.
The rehearsal "went wonderfully and will offer a terrific show this year," according to coordinator Susan Lutes.
The annual Jamestown Christmas Pageant is held every Christmas Eve at the Shoreby Hill green at 5 p.m. The traditional pageant features a live nativity performed by island residents, which lasts about 25 minutes.
"The rehearsal went great. All the angels were excited and it went very well," said Lutes. "Everyone was very much into it," she added.
Lutes said that the pageant is an established and cherished tradition in Jamestown, and they are expecting a huge turnout this year. "People forget about Macy's, gift cards, and shopping," added Lutes. "It [the pageant] helps remind everyone of the essence of what the holidays are about."
Although Saturday's rehearsal was inside, the pageant will be held outside and take place regardless of snow. The Christmas Eve performance will go forward and only be canceled if rain is in the forecast.
All those attending the pageant should come prepared to sing. Lyrics will be provided, but it is important to bring a flashlight. The sing-along songs this year are: "Silent Night," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful."
Last year was the first pageant in several years to feature a donkey, and even more animals are expected to be part of the event this year. "It's very special to have other animals," said Lutes. In addition to the donkey, they are expecting an ox, a calf, some sheep and possibly even a llama. The Sicilian donkey, which they are using this year, is often a symbol of Christmas due to its unique cross-shaped markings along the back and base of the neck. The donkey is in care of the Hutchinson family and the sheep, calf and ox are courtesy of Sarah Baumford and the O'Farrell Farm.
The pageant features a live nativity performed by island residents and is a re-enactment of the nativity at the manger in Bethlehem. Hutch Hutchinson and Rachel Bryer play Joseph and Mary this year. Alan Baines, Barbara Szepatowski and Steve Heath are the three wise men.
Angels this year, all from the Girl Scouts, are Eliza Kallfelz, Isabella Zainyeh, Kendra Smith, Savanna Olsen, Emily Kallfelz, Courtney MacIntyre, Emma MacIntyre and Annabel O'Donnell. The manger angels are played by Anza DiGasper and Ella Hutchinson and Olivia Clarke is the tree angel.
The Boy Scouts playing the shepherds are Milo DiGasper, Ian Archibald, Truman Christie and John Waddington. Additional shepherds are Don Richardson, Kathleen DeCubellis and Larry Bartley.
This year Ray Dunlevy, Jim McLoughlin and Charlotte Richardson are the lay readers for the blessing.
Longtime participants Fred Brome and Matt Bolles will accompany the performers on guitar.
As in the past, the Lion's Club is the main sponsor of this year's pageant. However, the Rotary and the local VFW also make large contributions.
The Christmas pageant has been presented in Jamestown since 1975. Pageant founder Jeanne Bunkley, based it on a similar pageant held in her hometown of Bronxville, N.Y. Susan Lutes took over as coordinator in 2005, although Jean Bunkley remains part of the committee.
Susan Lutes and the other members of the committee, who include Don Richardson, Jim McLoughlin and Mary Heath, start getting organized and begin fund raising for the pageant in October. Mary Waddington is also one of the main organizers, as well as Bill Munger of Conanicut Marine, who contributes time and equipment to provide the staging, lights and sound. "We couldn't do it without him," said Lutes.
A tree lighting and blessing will follow the 25-minute pageant.