Springfield Nativity Pageant ‘big community effort’ | News, Sports, Jobs

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Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Jesse Deibele and Alexis Huiras portray Joseph and Mary in the Springfield Nativity Pageant that concludes for the season with a 7 p.m. performance just east of the Springfield Community Center. Their son Oliver portrays Baby Jesus.

SPRINGFIELD — Basking in mild winter weather near 50 degrees at a rehearsal Thursday, Springfield farmer Ed Meidl said he’s never worn gloves in the 36 years he’s participated in the Springfield Area Nativity Pageant.

The production opened at 7 p.m. Friday near the Springfield Community Center parking lot. It continues at 7 p.m. Saturday (tonight).

“Portraying a wise man and shepherd, I’ve never worn gloves. Not even when the temperature was below zero. My hands stung a few times, but I always made it. I’ll do this as long as I can. I can’t stand just sitting around,” said Meidl, who is nearly 90.

Another cast member is retired Springfield teacher Doug Robertson.

“I hope everybody has fun and remembers what this is really for,” said Robertson.

Pageant crewman Ed Pautzke talked about the weather.

“A little bit of snow would be nice, but this weather brings a lot more crowd in. Last year, we were over-run. That’s why we changed the design a little and added more seating,” he said.

Pautzke recalled working at the pageant in much colder weather.

“I remember letting the engine run for an hour and hardly being able to see on the way home with ice a half-inch thick on the windshield,” he added.

“It’s a big community effort. All the churches and schools get involved. Choirs come together to sing,” said Pautzke.

The pageant includes donkeys, mules, camels, goats and sheep.

“I’m just happy to be a part of this production. I look forward to it every year.” said pageant coordinator Justin “Hoover” Hillesheim.

Pageant director Nick Dauer talked about the highlights of the pageant.

“We’ve got the largest choir we’ve ever had with 46 on Saturday night. Tons of high school kids. Our choir instructor and director did a great job,” said Dauer.

“There are a lot of people involved with this that have been here many years,” he added. “We flipped our set to get more room this year. The whole point of this is the joy of the Christmas season. That’s the reason we put in the work.”

The 37th annual pageant begins at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, just east of Springfield Community Center. Visitors are invited to join the pageant cast and crew for holiday refreshments in the community center after the pageant.

The pageant was voted the 2017 “Best of Minnesota Live Nativity” by WCCO television viewers. There is no admission fee.

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