Christmas pageant a community production
The annual Christmas pageant will be staged at the Shoreby Hill Green on Christmas Eve for the 35th consecutive year. The Jamestown tradition is a live re-enactment of the Nativity of Jesus at the manger in Bethlehem.
The pageant, which is sponsored by the Jamestown Lions Club, has been a staple in the island community since 1975. Founder Jeanne Bunkley got the idea from a similar pageant held in her hometown of Bronxville, N.Y., which has featured the spectacle every year since 1914. The procession includes carols that tell the story of Jesus Christ’s birth.
Bunkley, who is still active as a pageant committee member, was the coordinator of the Jamestown pageant up until 2005, when Susan Lutes took over. This year, Mary Waddington, who has been involved with the pageant since 2006, takes the reigns.
“The pageant is truly a Jamestown tradition,” Waddington said. “Participants come full circle and join in as adults.”
As a boy growing up on the island, Jeff Bush enjoyed his time as a shepherd, and now he will get the chance to act as one of three wise men. His two daughters – Allison and Julia – will join him as angels. Suzanne Aubois has also made this year’s pageant a family affair: her daughter, Charley, will follow in her mother’s footsteps as an angel. Ever since seeing pictures of her mother as an angel Charley has wanted to wear the wings, according to Waddington.
The pageant consists of 26 roles, including Joseph, Mary, three wise men, eight shepherds, eight angels, a manger angel, a tree angel and three lay readers. The cast is comprised of Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, community leaders and members of the Lions Club, Rotary Club and VFW. The cast still dons the original costumes, just refitted for each member.
This year, Chip Baertlein and Josie Ruggieri will play Joseph and Mary, respectively. Joining Bush as a wise man is Rob Roach and Bill Murphy.
The shepherds will be Don Richardson, Larry Bartley, John Waddington, Henry Pratt, Ethan Holt, Spencer, Caleb and Madison Clouatre.
Along with Charley, Allison and Julia, this year’s angels will be Juliana Ruggieri, Mary Baertlein, Alyssa Gibbs, Lindsey Dickinson, BellaRay Guertin, Amelia Urquhart. Gaelyn Dwyer will be the tree angel.
The lay readers will be Ray Dunlevy, Jim McLoughlin and Jean Silvia. As always, the pageant will be accompanied by music – Matt Bolles will play the guitar and the Jamestown Community Chorus will provide the vocals.
The O’Farrell and Hutchinson families will provide the animals.
Everyone in attendance is encouraged to bring a flashlight so they can read the lyrics – which will be provided – and sing along with the cast during the half-hour display.
The committee who helped organize the pageant is comprised of Bunkley, Richardson, Jeanne Urquhart, Bill Munger, Andrew Rushton, Prim Bullock, Kirie Reveron and Julie Ruggieri. Munger of Conanicut Marina contributes his time and equipment to provide the staging, lights and sound.
A tree lighting and blessing will follow the performance. Only rain will stop the show from going on.