Toward the end of Tuesday night’s “The Pioneer Legacy” pageant, attendees were told by executive producer Merrill Osmond that the pyrotechnicians were experiencing technical problems, and it didn’t look like they would be able to cap off the evening as planned: with a massive fireworks display.

Executive producer Merrill Osmond (left) looks on as pyrotechnicians try to solve technical problems at the end of “The Pioneer Legacy” pageant and fireworks celebration, St. George, Utah, July 24, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Some fireworks had been shot off intermittently throughout the 90-minute program, which featured dozens of performers, most of them teenage youth and younger children. However, an unforeseen glitch was preventing the launching of the grand finale, prompting Osmond to express his disappointment and regrets to the crowd. The main lights were turned on at Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium, and thousands of people began to gather up their belongings and head for the exits. Most seemed to have taken the disappointing news well, politely applauding the young performers before starting to make their way out.

But then, after several more minutes, Osmond took the mic again and brought good news: the problem had been resolved, and the fireworks were going to happen. After loud cheers from the crowd, the house lights were turned off again, and the sky was filled with an impressive fireworks show lasting more than 10 minutes.

The last-minute glitch was not the evening’s only potential problem. Right before the beginning of the program, rain pelted the arena while the Southern Utah Heritage Choir was singing the national anthem. Stage hands rushed to cover the electronic equipment controlling the lights, sound and video, and audience members who had been sitting in the metal bleachers on the east side of the field were evacuated and asked to come down onto the field due to the threat of lightning.

Fireworks at the end of “The Pioneer Legacy” pageant and fireworks celebration, St. George, Utah, July 24, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Soon, however, brisk winds blew the storm clouds past the stadium, and the rain subsided. Weather was not a factor the remainder of the show.

Like the very pioneers they were portraying, the pageant performers simply soldiered on.

The production featured a series of musical vignettes depicting the Mormon pioneers as they made their way westward across the plains in the mid-1800s, enduring various trials and hardships along the way. Although the early Mormon settlers of St. George were highlighted, several other faiths and ethnic groups who came to live in Utah’s Dixie were also featured. Native American performers dressed in colorful costumes did a hoop dance and joined with the pioneers for another lively number.

The program’s stated purpose was to “celebrate the trailblazers who made this place what it is today.” Moving briskly from scene to scene, the program deftly stuck to that central theme, highlighted by strong vocal performances, exuberant acting and well-executed choreography throughout. The talented cast comprised well over 100 performers, including many local children.

During the preshow, representatives from local law enforcement and emergency response agencies received the “Pioneer Legacy Award.” Emcee Nathan Osmond thanked the St. George Police, Dixie State University Police and St. George Fire departments, in addition to Gold Cross Ambulance, for their service to the community. Washington County Commissioners Dean Cox and Victor Iverson presented the awards on stage.

In addition, two local hard-of-hearing children were presented with new audio technology to help them hear better. Although Tuesday night’s show was free, attendees were encouraged to make donations to the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund and the Olive Osmond Center for Performing Arts.

In addition to Nathan Osmond, singer-songwriter and storyteller Sam Payne also provided entertainment during the pre-show.

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