Annual Easter Pageant brings tradition back to old and new audience members

By Cole Garner

Editor in Chief


Jesus, played by Steve Villalobos, waves back as he enters Jerusalem with welcoming crowds waving heir palm leaves in the Easter Pageant at UMHB on Wednesday, March 31. Garrett Snyder walks the donkey, Honey, as Dylan Yates, playing a Roman Guard, walks to the left.
Courtesy Photos

This year saw the return of the UMHB Easter Pageant in person for its 82nd year. Enthusiastic audiences filled the stands and lawn at Luther Memorial on campus, for three performances on Wednesday, March 31, with the first starting at 12:30 p.m. and the last at  5:30 p.m..


Crowdspeople, played by Jamie Boykin (left), Precious Anselm (middle left), Jordan McCaslin (middle right) and Dannah Fritschle (right) greet other women during the play.

Last year, the 81st UMHB Easter Pageant was moved online when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to go home to complete the spring semester online. Because of this, the pageant was completely different from previous iterations, as it was presented as an edited version. Students sent in videos of themselves talking about their experiences of past pageants. Videos of pageants of years past also were presented during the broadcast.


Jesus, played by Steve Villalobos, tells the Penitent Thief at right, who is played by sophomore math major Seth Brennan, that he will be with Him in Paradise that day. The Roman guards are played by Thomas Henderson (left) and Phil Cagle (right).

This year’s third performance of the afternoon  began with UMHB President Randy O’Rear opening up the final performance with comments and prayer. He was accompanied by pageant directors Miriam Osterlund and Sarah Weinmann.


UMHB President Randy O’Rear leads the audience in prayer at the beginning of the 5:30 p.m. performance of the university’s annual Easter Pageant.

O’Rear spoke highly of the event, calling it his favorite UMHB tradition. He then sat and held his grandson as he watched it with his family.

All disciples are chosen personally by the actor for Jesus, who was played by senior psychology major Steve Villalobos.


Jesus, played by Steve Villalobos, shows that he has risen from the tomb.

This year, freshman public relations major Chris Johnson was picked to be one of the disciples. Johnson said that experiencing being a disciple as a freshman was important to him.

“God has grown me as a person so much and having experienced

[the Easter pageant]

so vividly as a freshman was amazing,” Johnson said. He claimed that his favorite experience during the production of the pageant was getting to know the other 11 disciples.

“I loved getting to know them all better and I know I have made a community that is way bigger than Easter pageant,” Johnson said.


Jesus, played by Steve Villalobos, raises a dead child, played by 5-year-old Olivia Brock.

Dr. Craig Hammonds, Associate Dean of the College of Education, went to the 5:30 pm. Easter Pageant performance.

“Pageant is such a rich tradition at UMHB that allows our students to share their core beliefs with our community,” Hammonds said.


Ten-year-old Malachi Ee looks on intently as he watches his older brother, education and music major Micah Ee, perform in the play.

Mark Gonzalez, a junior public relations major, played Judas in the pageant. He researched the part in order to gain a better understanding of the character.

“Steve had us pass around a book that was about each disciple and it talked about the Gospel in their perspective,” Gonzalez said. “The other disciples also made it really easy to prepare for the role with their constant encouragement and their peaceful presence they all offered.”


Royce Winkler of Temple brought his grandchildren Christian, at right, and Erin Yepez (not pictured), ages 10 and 13, as is tradition in his family. Winkler’s sister, Jeanette Schiffner of Killeen, was a student and disciple in the UMHB Pageant in 1968.

The UMHB Easter Pageant is still available to watch on the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor Facebook page.

Author: The Bells Staff

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