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Bronxville Christmas Pageant Celebrates 100th Anniversary Tonight at 5:30 PM; See Names of Cast and Singers

Written by Susanne Leary Shoemaker, Co-Chair, Bronxville Christmas Pageant


Dec. 24, 2014: On Christmas Eve at 5:30 pm, on the hillside in front of The Reformed Church of Bronxville, the Bronxville Christmas Pageant will take place, first performed one hundred years ago in 1914. This annual event has great significance to the Bronxville community, bringing together members of the community of many denominations.  

It is remarkable that, for one hundred years, our little pageant has unfolded every Christmas Eve with simplicity and dignity, relatively unchanged in a complex world that is full of too much bad news.          

At the beginning of World War I, the plight of displaced Belgian refugees was a cause of great concern to many. The Christ Church Parish House wanted to give a benefit to raise funds to aid the refugees. William Chauncy Langdon, a resident of Bronxville and well-known international pageanteer, conceived an original work, The Bronxville Christmas Mystery 1914, to be performed as a fundraiser.

It was not intended to be a religious spectacle, but rather a play about the joy of holidays and family life and the grief of war. It took place on three levels in three separate locations: Bethlehem, Belgium, and Bronxville. The play was produced and performed in December of 1914 and again in January of 1915. 

The play was a rousing success and it was suggested that Mr. Langdon create a simpler version of it to be given out of doors. Such a pageant would bring the community together at holiday time. Langdon chose the Bethlehem scene as the basis for the outdoor Christmas pageant. 

It was originally held on the hillside of the Gramatan Hotel facing the train station, where the pageant as we know it today was born. It was moved to the hillside of The Reformed Church in 1940.          

This year we will again perform the Bronxville Christmas Pageant. We will include a cast of many. As a special feature to celebrate the 100th anniversary, we will also include a camel alongside the donkey and the sheep. Animals are arranged through the Dawn Animal Agency.

The Virgin Mary will be played by Lucy Whitney, and Joseph will be Jonah Pfeifer. Both are seniors in high school. The manger angel will be played by Edelawit Bird, a fourth grader. Brooks Klimley, Randolph Mayer, and Timothy McGrath will be the three kings. The McGrath family has attended and participated in the pageant for over 84 years. 

We are excited to welcome sisters Grace and Sarah Winant, who will fulfill the role of song leaders. Their mother, Wendy Winant, played Mary in the pageant in 1975.

We are sorry to report the passing last year of Elwyn Walshe, who led the Wakefield Brass Quartet for many years. This year's brass accompaniment will be provided by the Westchester Brass Quartet, which includes Roger Harnett and Connie Barrett, trumpet; Howard Levy, trombone/leader; and Walter Barrett, bass trombone. 

Special thanks to Ron LoPinto, president of the Bronxville Pops Concert Band, who made the music arrangements for us. Cindy Tether will ring the tower bells. Scouts are provided by Troop 1, under the direction of Bill Chilson. The shepherd boy will be played by George Kedas.

The Invisible Choir will be led by Maryann Palermo. Adult shepherds are provided by the Saturday Morning Men's Group of The Reformed Church. Shepherds Henry Palermo and Stephen Shoemaker will handle the live sheep, and shepherd Dan Johnson will lead the camel travelling with the kings to Bethlehem. 

Refreshments are provided by Betty Cuningham. Lighting and sound are provided by Jeffrey Kastenbaum and Rick Everett.  Tower, box, and lawn angels will be:

Nicole Giangola
Delia Hayes
Ekera King
Kathleen Conaton
Celia Haims
Ansley Jones
Hilary Rizzo
Sabina Richter
Emily Spitz
Eva Cagliostro
Grace Randall

Special thanks to Nina Richter, Margaret Conaton, and Charlotte Haims, who are in charge of the angels. We offer hearty thanks to Eris Saari for her public relations work. We are happy to add her to our committee this year. 

Many others have contributed to the pageant in many ways. We are very grateful to all for your support. Womrath Bookshop and Silk Road have supported us by selling our 100th-anniversary commemorative ornament. We appreciate their help.   

Rain is in the forecast, but that will not deter us. Rain or shine, the pageant will take place.  

Everyone--from Bronxville and beyond--is invited and welcome to attend.  

Pictured here: Angels in front of the crèche at last year's village pageant.

Photo by Melinda Burge

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Bronxville Overview

Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.

While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.

Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.

The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.

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