RAMBLING TO THE RAMONA PAGEANT
May 1, 2010
Attempting to cross some items on my own personal "Bucket List" (which is pretty long at this point) I decided to attend the Ramona Pageant, the longest running outdoor drama in the United States belive it or not. Held not in Ramona, but in the hills overlooking Hemet, it utilizes an entire mountainside and ranchero as a stage showcasing a cast of over 400 actors, singers, dancers and horsement, yes, real live cowboys/vaqueros on real live horses. This romantic tragedy is baded on a novel by Helen Hunt Jackson shades of Margaret Mitchell.
Our heroine and hero are Ramona and her Indian lover, Alessandro. As this three act play enfolds, the couple meets, marries, and die involving the audience along the way in their sorrows and joys, personal and historic misfortunes such as the death of Indian life. Reminiscent of Gone With the Wind this is definitely a Southern California historic epic dealing with one civilization struggling with another, suspicion, jealousy, and denied justice.
Personally, I thought the amphitheater unique as people appeared on the hillside seemingly out of nowhere. Even though it was outside the voices projected throughout the seating area clearly. Multi-generational dancing and singing seemed authentic . Held in April and May it can get very warm out there, but we had perfect temps. The three acts run over 3 hours so be prepared with water and a hat.
We chose not to drive opting instead for a Daytripper Tour bus that left from Escondido about noon for @$100. Our package included reserved seats for the pageant (which were terrific) use of a seat cushion (which you will need), a souvenir program, a deep pit BBQ beef luncheon served outdoors on the Pageant grounds, and plenty of time to enjoy the pre-show festivities of native singing and dancing, gunfights, etc. prior to the late afternoon performance. We even had time to explore the museum and browse the gift shop. There are food booths on the grounds if you opt not to take advantage of the BBQ selling items such as Indian Fry Bread. All in all it was an enjoyable day and one I would highly recommend attending at least once in your lifetime.