A hand-written, home-produced pageant, "The Light of the World," was first presented in 1946. Written by the Reverend Art Johnson and Clayton Morey, the pageant is performed every year by 115 local citizens on three sides of the Kearney County Courthouse. The 1,000 to 5,000 spectators all stand in the chilly December air, so dress warmly. It lasts a half hour.
While the actors on the courthouse lawn have been pantomiming the story for audiences, it was volunteers, during the first years, who read the parts from a script with background music being played on the turntable of a wooden console in a small room on the third floor of the courthouse. Cues were passed from the upstairs sound room to the pageant cast downstairs through the use of headsets. As each scene came up, the message to get lined and ready to go was sent down. New technology made it possible to record the sounds of the pageant--in the form of a record. Later the tape recorder came along and the pageant was put on tape. What started as a cast of 40 and a small crew has grown to include more than 150 actors per presentation with another 50 people working behind the scenes throughout the year to bring the story to life.
The pageant has spanned three generations of actors with the grandchildren of the original cast now taking part. The pageant continued for 52 years, being canceled twice in 1973 because of the energy crisis and on Dec. 12, 1993, when there was an explosion at the elevator in town near the intersection of Highways 6, 34, and 10. The city of Minden and the more than 2,000 people who had lent a hand to the pageant remember its many years of glory and there are no plans to discontinue what has become a family and community tradition.
The pageant is performed the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and the first two Sundays of December at 7:00 pm.