Beginning in the late twenties, the annual Avalon Easter pageant played out at sunrise on Easter Sunday at Buena Vista Point. Worshippers would begin their climb up to the point in complete darkness, lit only by the stars, as the Chimes Tower rang out somber tones over Avalon. Buena Vista Point, like Mt. Ada, was the first spot to catch the sunrise and as people took their seats, the sun would begin to rise up from the horizon and the pageant would start.
The amateur cast of local townspeople, in full costumes and robes, would act out the resurrection of Christ against an old stone archway, small dirt stage and wide tiered dirt steps. The stage area was surrounded with hundreds of beautiful, fragrant and locally grown Easter Lilies.
The pageant stopped during World War II but started again in the sixties for just a few more years.
Catalina Islander Newspaper
Thursday, April 21, 1938
Beautiful Tableau given Easter Morn
Buena Vista Park Scene of Beautiful Services Depicting Resurrection to Large Congregation
By Alma Overholt
To the accompaniment of a choir of mocking birds perched in the trees of Buena Vista Park, overlooking Avalon Bay, converted by landscape gardeners into a replica of the "Garden of Joseph of Arimathea." the tableau of the Resurrection was re-enacted as the first rays of the sun unfurled their golden scroll across the blue Pacific to the foot of the Easter Cross on Santa Catalina Island.
Provision had been made for a capacity congregation, but so large was the attendance that it overflowed down the hillsides and occupied very crag and vantage point. Below, on Avalon Bay, and stretching up the Island coast to the Isthmus, a majestic fleet of the yachts rode at anchor as Easter sunrise services were observed from above deck.
With swift fingers, the golden sun painted the living pictures as the story of "Christ Is Risen" unfolded and took the hushed assemblage back to the first joyous Easter morn 2000 years ago. Following the responsive reading by Earle Pollok, from St. Luke 24:1-9, came the Prophet's Vision, with Isaiah portrayed by Malcolm Renton. Dr. John Barron Toomay, pastor of the Avalon Community Congregational Church, acted as narrator as each tableau followed.
Mrs. Toomay portrayed the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the second episode, with Kay Marincovich as Mary Magdalene as they came with the women to the Holy Sepulchre with spices to anoint the body of Christ. As the stone was found rolled back from the Holy Sepulchre, the Angel of the Lord, portrayed by Irene Biller, appeared to proclaim that the Lord had Risen, and bide them to "weep not."
Solos between tableaux were sung by S.E. Carpenter and Ralph M. Heywood, with the choir from the Avalon Community Church leading the congregation singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," at the close.
The pageant was directed by Peggy Wiseman and given under the auspices of the Mary Williams Club. It is planned to make the Easter Sunrise pageant at Santa Catalina Island an annual institution, with selection for the cast an honor to be sought for among residents of Avalon, similar to that in the Passion Play of Oberammergau.