TERRE HAUTE —
Volunteers presenting the Easter story in Fairbanks Park remind those in attendance, Jesus is the reason for this season as well.
Lori Aplin stood in the grassy yard of Fairbanks Park on Friday evening, watching as the first troop of participants began the multi-stationed march through “Passion in the Park.”
The interactive, non-denominational re-enactment takes viewers on a stroll through the park as costumed volunteers act out the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Last night we had 50 [in attendance],” said Aplin, a minister with Senior Education Ministries. In addition to her group, volunteers from Imagine That, Covenant Cooperative Ministries, and Kings Servants Chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association joined in for the staged production.
“We actually plan for 1,000,” she said of expected attendance at the weekend-long event. Performances continue today 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Last year’s inaugural event drew 200 people.
Aplin explained that she and her husband, Budd, were inspired during a 2008 trip to Israel, where they witnessed a similar performance re-enacted through the streets where the story happened. The emotional impact of watching a man beaten bloody by guards as his mother and friends cried out for help was a unique experience, she said.
From the betrayal by Judas to his sentencing by Pontius Pilate, subsequent flogging and crucifixion, the re-enactors drew the crowd in as they called out their lines.
“I find no guilt in him,” a robed Pontius Pilate, played by Budd Aplin, cried to the crowd mixed with participants and re-enactors. But the crowd denied Pilate’s offer to execute a convicted murder instead of Jesus, whose alleged crime was claiming to be “King of the Jews.” They demanded death by crucifixion. “I wash my hands of innocent blood,” Pilate said to the crowd. “His blood is on the hands of you, and you and you,” he said, pointing to individuals in the crowd.
Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, cried to the crowd for help as Roman officers flogged him bloody before forcing him to carry his own cross up the hill.
Jesus, played by Les Rivera, was strapped to the cross and hoisted upright for the crowd to watch as he said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
Jackie Devine, one of the guides for the walking tour, said “Scripture tells us Jesus hung between heaven and Earth for six hours” before dying. Many victims of crucifixion hung for days before death, but the beating he’d taken at the hands of the officers had taken its toll, she explained.
The re-enactment ends as women discover the body of Jesus missing from the tomb and he appears to them with a final message.
The performances run between 30 and 45 minutes and are free to the public. Refreshments are shared afterward as ministers witness to the impact of the crucifixion and the price Jesus paid for mankind’s sins.
Bethany Compton, 14, attended the performance and testified to its affect. “It was very spiritual and I really enjoyed it.”
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.