By DEANNA ROACH

Special to The Hays Daily News

ALTON -- Area residents will present their annual Easter sunrise pageant at the base of the Alton bluffs at 6:15 a.m. Sunday; following the service, a freewill donation breakfast will be served at the Alton United Methodist Church.

The pageant, which focuses on Jesus' final week on earth, can be traced back to a young adult Sunday school class that came up with the idea of singing out over the town of Alton on Easter morning.

The year was 1948, and the students and their teacher, all members of Alton's First Methodist Church, raised their voices together in praise from the top of the bluffs at sunrise.

The following year, members of Alton's Evangelical United Brethren Church were invited to join. In 1950, the service was moved to the foot of the bluffs due to high winds, and a pageant was added.

In 1951, the Mount Ayr Friends Church of rural Alton became involved, and a breakfast following the service was added. Additional help through the years came from area rural churches that have long been disbanded and the Woodston United Methodist Church, which remains involved to this day.

Weather always is a pageant concern. Heavy rains led to indoor performances in the early years, while in more recent times it has caused the pageant to be canceled altogether. Cold temperatures can also be counted on before daybreak, so audience members are advised to dress in warm attire and bring blankets or chairs for seating.

Sponsors for this year's Easter pageant and breakfast are the Mount Ayr Friends Church and the Alton and Woodston United Methodist churches.

For further information or last-minute weather concerns, contact Pastor Homer Smuck at (785) 984-8078, Rex Johnston at (785) 346-6209 or Peggy Anschutz at (785) 483-0660.