Should you find yourself en route to the Hill Cumorah Pageant this year, I thought I might lend you my local expertise:
For the Pageant
o Starts at 9 pm (when it is finally dark). If you get there by 7 pm, you will be able to pick from chairs near and far and lawn wherever you want to spread out. Unless you want to pick out someone specific from the cast, there is no real benefit to being close.
o The show goes on rain or shine, so bring wet wear if appropriate.
o Get a sticker as soon as you walk in because the cast proselytes for the hour or so before the performance and they will keep approaching you if they do not see your sticker and will ignore you if they see it. I always walk up to a cast member (they are easy to spotâ€”they are in costume) and ask for a sticker so I donâ€™t have to talk to them again. You might be more social than I am.
o You can bring your own food but the only reason the town of Palmyra tolerates us is because their community organizations make a killing off concessions every year. I recommend the salt potatoes.
o There are anti-Mormon protesters every year. They cannot come on Church land to distribute literature, but you will not be able to avoid them if you park opposite the performance area, which most people do. I have never seen anything get very heatedâ€”most people just smile and walk–but they do sometimes get all kitted out in temple clothes.
o THIS ONE IS TOP SECRETâ€”the Thursday night before the pageant begins, they do a dress rehearsal and you can attend. There are no crowds, and probably no protesters (I canâ€™t remember any).
o You are not allowed to remove anything from the Sacred Grove. No, not even leaves. Not even for your scrapbook, sister.
o Your experiences are pretty hit-or-miss and depend entirely on the missionary/docents. Most are light on the history and heavy on the testimony. If this is not your cup of tea, I suggest you avoid missionaries and guide yourself.
o Start at the most popular spots first thing in the morning and then fan out to the others (the ones that are farther out). The Grandin building will probably always be crowded, so try to get there right when it opens.
o The Palmyra Temple is worth a visit but you need an appointment and your own clothes. They bring out special missionary temple workers just for this season, so keep them busy! This is a mini Temple, but it is not like the other mini Templesâ€”this is the super duper deluxe for Joseph mini temple. Give it a tryâ€”it wonâ€™t be like any other temple youâ€™ve tried before.
o The Peter Whitmer Farm is out there, but it is my dadâ€™s favorite. I must admit that I have never been there.
o I recommend you do some research before you come so you can visit some Church historical sites not owned by the church. I have visited the Inn where Brigham Young first received the Book of Mormon and the graves of Brigham Youngâ€™s first wife and other family members.
o Erie Canalâ€”take a boat ride, learn some history.
o Seneca Fallsâ€”not only was ITâ€™S A WONDERFUL LIFE filmed here, but this is also the home of the Declaration of Sentiments.
o Women’s Rights National Historical Park–free and fascinating–what more could you want?
o Susan B. Anthony Houseâ€”the mother of our vote lived right here in Rochester. Tour her house, find the Utah connection (itâ€™s there), and donate to the restoration.
o Fredrick Douglas Statuesâ€”The great man lived here for many years and published The North Star from here. He was the first black person to have a statue erected of him in the US, and you can see it in Highland Park but I really love the one in front of the Susan B. Anthony house of the real life friends conversing.
o Underground Railroadâ€”although there are houses all over the region that served as stops, Auburn is a great town in which to enjoy this history in a compact area. Donâ€™t miss Harriet Tubmanâ€™s home, Sewardâ€™s (of folly fame) home which served as a safehouse for runaway slaves, and the graveyard.
o George Eastman Houseâ€”fascinating eccentric American inventor, his house in all itsâ€™ glory and fabulous photography exhibits.
o Mt. Hope Cemetaryâ€”one of Americaâ€™s destination cemeteries. Final destination for Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas, both Baush and Lomb, etc.
o Ganondagon–excellent cultural center for the Haudenosaunee–you call them Iroquois. They have a replica bark longhouse which is worth the visit in and of itself. If you are unfamiliar, I highly recommend becoming familiar with The Peacemaker.
o Jello Museumâ€”Jello was invented in LeRoy, NY and the Museum is worth a visitâ€”donâ€™t make me convince you of the debt our culture owes Jello!
o Niagra Fallsâ€”I suggest you park on the American side and walk the bridge over to Canada. Make sure you have appropriate ID for all members of the family, even babies (copy of birth certificates). There is a fascinating but expensive Underground Railroad experience, too.
Local Points of Interest
o Sonnenburg Gardensâ€”historic house and gardens.
o Letchworth State Parkâ€”if you want to camp or hike, this is a nice place to do it.
o Strongâ€™s National Museum of Playâ€”if you are traveling with kids, this is a great place to wipe out the memory of that last stretch through Ohio. Or to escape that pesky rain.
o Abby of the Geneseeâ€”this Trappist Montestary takes travelers and sells great baked goodsâ€”what else could you need?
o Tom Wahlsâ€”local fast food chain–they make their own root beer.
o Mushroom Houseâ€”youâ€™ve never seen anything like it!
o Nick Tahousâ€”this restaurant is the originator of a local dish called a â€œgarbage plateâ€ but you can get knock-offs at many other diners. Rochester is the home of the hot dogâ€”we call them â€œhots,â€ and they come in red and white. Try them.