ST. GEORGE — Merrill Osmond of The Osmond Brothers fame, and his son, Justin Osmond, paid a visit to St. George’s City Council Thursday to outline plans for a spectacular Pioneer Day production in July.
The production, “Merrill Osmond presents: Youth Pioneer Pageant,” is a modified pageant of an existing show that played previously in West Jordan and will be held at Dixie State University’s Legend Solar Stadium. The pageant is a one-hour musical that features children age 3 to 18 with fireworks throughout, telling the story of the Mormon pioneers who arrived in Utah in the mid-19th century.
Merrill Osmond has been instrumental in producing big, patriotic shows, including Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration and Provo’s massive July 4th “Stadium of Fire,” a fireworks show glitzed with famous musicians and air displays by the U.S. Air Force.
After Rick Nielson, cousin of Washington City Mayor Ken Nielson, saw the show, he requested the Osmonds bring the production to Southern Utah.
Since then, Justin and Merrill Osmond have appealed to County Commissioner Dean Cox and various city councils throughout Washington County in order to make it happen, and they have so far been met with favor, Justin Osmond said.
The idea for the pageant was originally conceived when the Osmonds said they concluded that the current generation is starting to forget why Pioneer Day is celebrated.
“We love the pioneers so much,” Justin Osmond said. “We want to help them pay tribute to the legacy and help the kids, especially the kids, and everbody, realize the sacrifices they went through.”
About 130 children will be recruited from the Southern Utah area, and the talent is already coming together.
“We’re finding out that there’s a lot of talent in this town, and we want to utilize that talent and the wonderful gifts here,” Justin Osmond said.
In addition to children singing and dancing the show will feature live animals, sky divers, Utah National Guard 2nd Battalion 222nd Field Artillery tanks and military flyovers.
Native Americans from the Navajo and Paiute tribes will also be involved, along with representation from Catholic and Jewish settlers to the area.
“The whole show is all orchestrated to track with the music and the fireworks. So when someone shoots a gun, there will be an aerial right on cue,” Justin Osmond said of the pageant’s special effects fireworks. “When the crickets come in and eat all the crops, we have fireworks that look just like crickets.”
The Osmonds plan to localize the show for a Southern Utah audience.
“He’s in the process right now of writing two new songs we’ll implement into this show that tell the Dixie pioneer story,” Justin Osmond said, referring to his father.
The pageant will be offered completely free to the public.
“This is not a moneymaker for us, for our family,” Justin Osmond said.
The production is expected to cost roughly $40,000, and the Osmonds are asking for contributions of $2500 from surrounding municipalities, and $5000 was requested of St. George.
“We believe this is an annuity that could go on forever. If we do it right, people will continue to come, and this could be a mainstay for St. George.” Merrill Osmond said.
“When I started Stadium of Fire, everyone thought I was crazy putting music to fireworks … You look at it today, it’s as big as it could ever get,” Merrill Osmond said of the Provo-based fireworks show.
Justin Osmond said the show would likely attract guests from as far as Cedar City and Mesquite, Nevada.
“We would like to envision this as the Stadium of Fire of Southern Utah,” Merrill Osmond said.
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