Pageant Chairman Morgan Dyreng remembers: "In the early history of the pageant we obtained chairs by borrowing them from wards and stakes from Richfield on the south to Spanish Fork on the north, with Brigham Young University always loaning us 1500 chairs. These people were very helpful and brought the chairs to us in trucks and also picked them up and took them home. Chairs were donated to the pageant by Promised Valley Outdoor Theatre when it was discontinued. Placement of chairs was under the direction of a committee headed by Girven Stott for many years. The last several years Steven Frischknecht has been chairman. Some scenery was given to the Pageant in 1970 by M. Russell Ballard from Valley Music Hall in Bountiful. Sets for the Nauvoo House, jail scene, bedroom and translation scenes were professionally designed and constructed by Fred Teichert and associates of Salt Lake City. Some who owned genuine buggy wheels sacrificed them for the pageant so that four more handcarts were added, giving a total of seven. That year the pageant played for 4 nights, with 35,000 people attending.
Again in 1972 major changes were made. Following the design of Church landscape architect, Irvin T. Nelson, a larger earthen stage was made and sod was laid on the stage area. Wings of the stage were extended to accommodate the larger cast.' 'One of the overwhelming things about the pageant is the wonderful cooperation we are receiving." Mr. R. Clair Anderson, General Chairman, was quoted in the local papers of 13 July 1972. "Many, many people are coming forward and offering to assist in any way they can. The help is coming from far and near -in many ways -checks, labor, the use of equipment and facilities. We will never be able to thank personally the many people who are contributing to the success of this endeavor. "One of the more interesting things is the increasingly widespread attention the pageant is receiving." Mr. Anderson commented, "Like the little ripples started when a pebble is tossed into a pond, the word about the pageant is reaching further and further. It is being spread by word of mouth, by announcements, by posters and articles and pictures and by radio and television newscasters. "As an example of the attention the pageant is receiving," he said, "the Humble Oil Company has this year listed the Mormon Miracle Pageant in their publication, Happy Motoring, and in their magazine, Energy, as one of the outstanding outdoor theater attractions in America."
The pageant has continued to receive national attention in a number of tourist publications including the American Bus Association, where it was listed as one of one hundred best productions to be seen in America. It has been included in the literature produced by the Institute of Outdoor Drama originating at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In December, The Institute of Outdoor Drama published attendance figures of 40 Outdoor Dramas for 1979. The Mormon Miracle Pageant had the highest average attendance per night. (Approximately 16,250), with a total attendance of approximately 130,000 for eight nights. Twelve dramas did not submit attendance figures for that year. Only two productions reported a higher total attendance. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival reported an attendance of 265,000 spread over 572 performances in three separate theaters; and The Great Passion Play reported 208,790 total attendance for 125 nights. With increased attendance, Elliott Braithwaite was called to be full time chairman of crowd management and Fred Carpenter and John Peacock were his assistants. They replaced Cal Nielsen, the local policeman. In recent years crowd management has been under the direction of Donald Olsen with Kenneth Jackson, Merrill Ogden, Alvin Green and Robert Stoddard as assistants. For the comfort of the large crowds, water fountains were manufactured by Walter Hansen and Sons, and placed near the pageant grounds. Portable restrooms in 40 ft. trailers were manufactured by L. & M. Trailer company in Ephraim, with Jay Cluff as engineer. These replaced chemical units that had proved unsatisfactory. Four trailers, each containing 15 units with flush toilet, individual booths, wash basins and power ventilators were built. Two inch lines brought water to these units, and sewage facilities were connected. A fifth unit was built for the 1991 season.
Two large light towers using good salvaged material were built in Salina in 1972. They were anchored in 6 foot deep 10 by 10 ft. holes with block concrete reinforcements. Miracles never ceased atop those 18 foot towers that beamed right on target on each dramatic scene of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. Wind, rain, threatening roll of thunder and imminent lightning did not deter David Cox or Douglas Barton and their crews of technicians from being at their nightly posts. In 1973 it was determined to extend the pageant for 8 nights in order to accommodate the large crowds who wanted to attend. For two years beginning in 1973, it was considered inappropriate to place a live " Angel Moroni" on the west towers of the temple. The electronic tape was modified, a small "tower" was placed on the summit of the hill, and a new lighting effect was provided with 10,500 star-like lights being placed in 30 pine trees nearby. When the restriction prohibiting the use of the west tower of the Temple was withdrawn the small "Christmas lights" were no longer used. In 1980 the lighting system was improved again and in 1983 new light towers were built locally of angle iron to replace the old ones. With power booms to facilitate the lifting of heavy lights, they were designed so they could be raised and lowered without the use of a heavy crane. The new towers were designed by Loren (Mike) Worley, a Navy Engineer. Local contractors did the welding and electrical work. Much of the work was donated labor. Power lines for the pageant were put underground at this time also. Cliff Davis of Salt Lake City designed and constructed a new translation scene and donated it to the Pageant in 1987. A new bedroom scene was designed and built in 1990 by Jesse Birch and Tom Henretty. In 1978 Richard Olsen designed and built a large ramp leading from the upper stage to the stone stairway by the retaining wall south of the temple for Robert and Mary in the finale. Someone once said, "That must have been a lot of work to build the wall for the pageant." Surely the Lord's hand was in the making of a setting for the Mormon Miracle Pageant. The wide, sloping lawn under the shadow of the great temple offers peace and serenity, beauty and simplicity found in but few places on the earth.
The script for the Mormon Miracle Pageant came as an idea as the author, Grace Johnson, pondered man's existence. "Why am I here? Where am I going? Is there a God? If a man die, shall he live again?" She answered her question because Jesus gave the answers in the Meridian of Time. Again when a boy (Joseph Smith) who went into the woods to pray. She wrote: "There ought to be a work portraying a picture of both Mormon theology and history in a single presentation. Not only fact but feeling. It's so easy to become complacent and forget about the impact the 'Mormon Story' had on the settlement of America," she said some years ago in an interview. "The story of the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or 'Mormons', with their constant movement westward, until they finally settled in what is now Utah, was a factor that completely changed the face of America." They launched a thousand ships of immigration, flooding the New World with divergent cultures, bringing skills, trades and arts with them to meld a unique commonwealth as they worked together to make the barren desert blossom."
She presented her lecture tour to service clubs in the eastern United States and thought she was probably the first Mormon woman to present the Mormon story from the lecture platform. Information of the success of the lecture tour reached L.D.S. Church Headquarters. Miss Johnson was requested to present her "Mormon Miracle" in the great Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, as part of the June Conference of the Church in 1947 which commemorated the centennial of the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers in Utah. From there, "The Mormon Miracle" was published by Deseret Book Company and was subsequently sponsored for a tour of L.D.S. Stakes 10 Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah, concluding with a presentation at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City. Brigham Young University presented it in 1964 with a cast and narrators, and with music provided by a 75 voice choir. It was also presented as a baccalaureate service in the L.D.S. Church College of Hawaii. It might be said that the pageant is a product of many dreams and aspirations. It was quite a few years after Grace Johnson's original lecture tour in New England, and after her historic presentation in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and subsequent lecture tour that Trevor and Clover Christensen, who were then working in an administrative capacity at the Church College of Hawaii, read Miss Johnson's story of The Mormon Miracle as part of the graduation exercises.
On a later visit to Trevor's mother, they again presented Grace's Story in a South Ward Sacrament meeting in Ephraim. About the same time, a number of people in the area were discussing what could be done to hold a meaningful celebration on the 24th of July. It should be something that would help folks remember the events and great sacrifice that gave us life as we know it here in the mid-2Oth century. Some felt it might be fitting to return to the old time celebrations that would stir up a feeling of patriotism and love for the nation, as well as something that would help us to hold in sacred remembrance the sacrifices of those early pioneers who settled this valley, and the cause for which they came. It was felt that perhaps a day-long activity with a proper program, a parade, flag drills, racing and ball games would be symbolic of earlier celebrations. Maybe there could be a campfire in the evening, surrounded by square dancing and drama to help us remember who we are and why we are here. There was talk of having ice cold melon and other treats available. And then someone said, ' 'Why not dramatize Grace Johnson's Mormon Miracle?" It was as if many people were thinking along the same lines at the same time,