Independence Day pageant to return next July

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Independence  Day pageant to return next July“Our Country ’Tis of Thee,” one of our community’s most popular Fourth of July traditions has been suspended for this year, but tentatively is set to return for 2021.

COVID-19 restrictions that limit crowds and other social gatherings and performances is one factor. But promoters of last year’s event note that the coincidence of our community’s 6.4-magnitude earthquake that hit mid-performance last year also left its mark on the young cast.

“There were a few children who weren’t even sure they wanted to be in the program this year (before we got canceled) because of the trauma of the earthquake,” Penny Belt, band director for the production, wrote to the News Review.

“Hopefully by next year everyone will be ready to go again.”

“Our Country ’Tis of Thee” is a patriotic pageant that tells the history of America through song-and-dance routines performed by children.

Holly Goodman, mother to some of those performers, first got involved around 2013 and over the years has served as music director, costume-mender, prop mistress, dance-instructor, treasure and doer of any job that needs doing.

She had four daughters involved last year — one of whom was in the middle of a dance routine when the earthquake hit. “She was mostly disappointed that she didn’t get to finisher her dance!” Goodman recalled.

“They were a little scared, but overall rather brave about it … They haven’t been scared to do it again as many other children have.

“I’ve found that my calm response as a parent really helped with how my children responded.”

They are definitely ready for next year, she said. “We’d planned for this year before everything was canceled because of the virus.”

The Independence Day tradition began years ago when several families organized the pageant through their church. After a hiatus, the production was brought back as a community-wide collaboration.

Although rehearsals are still held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people from all walks are invited to join.

Last year the News Review interviewed families – some of whom have been involved for two and three generations — who all shared the social and educational benefits of being a part of the tradition.

“We’d love more participants from all over the community,” said Goodman. “We strive to make it a positive experience for everyone. The show is about our country’s history, gratitude for our freedoms and pride for our great country. At times like these, I’d hope everyone in our community could come together to celebrate those things.”

Like with the community fireworks celebration, the pageant hopes to return bigger and better next year.

Watch for next year’s audition announcements — which are typically released in the spring — for more information on how to get involved.

Pictured: A previous cast of “Our Country ’Tis of Thee.” — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-07-03