Easter is a very big deal at St. Matthew United Methodist Church.
Just ask the 350 volunteers — actors, musicians, behind-the-scenes crews —who will participate in the 26th annual production of “The Joy of Easter.”
“It truly does take a village,” said Scott Ferguson, casting director for the program and guest services director at the church. “We try to include as many volunteers of all ages from the congregation so there’s a real connection with the audience.”
“The Joy of Easter” is a dramatic interpretation of the Passion Play complete with a large choir, orchestra, full cast and live animals. Scenes of various Bible stories, starting with the birth of Jesus and ending with the crucifixion will be dipicted with costumed actors on a professionally designed and built set.
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Jamie Palmer will portray Jesus. The narrators are Luke Patton and the Rev. Andy Anthony. Lindsay Vollmar, director of childrens ministries, is the drama director.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today and Friday at St. Matthew, 1200 Moreland Drive in Belleville. Admission is free. A love offering will be taken. Each performance draws at least 1,500 attendees, Ferguson said.
For more information, call 618-397-5994. It is recommended that you call ahead if you are coming with a group, and arrive early. A nursery will be provided.
Holy Week drama
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows will present “Journey of Decision” at 1 p.m. Friday. Participants can walk with Pontius Pilate, Veronica, King Herod and others during this outdoor Stations of the Cross and hear their first-hand accounts of Christ’s passion and death. Discover how each was personally affected by Christ’s crucifixion.
Maryville egg hunt
Children in preschool through grade 5 can participate in a free Easter egg hunt at 5 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Maryville. More than 10,000 eggs will be in the hunt, each filled with candy and prizes.
Following the hunt, the first of four Easter services will be held at 5:30 p.m. Remaining services are at 8:15, 9:30 and 10:55 a.m. Sunday.
BELLEVILLE: Mrs. Easter Bunny requests your presence at her breakfast table from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the multipurpose room of First United Presbyterian Church.
a continental breakfast will be served, Harvey the Juggler will entertain, and there will be face painting, prizes and an Easter egg hunt (bring a basket). Pictures with Mrs. Bunny are $2 for two prints. They will be available at the church on Sunday.
Admssion is $3 per person; children under 3 are free. The church is at 1303 Royal Heights Road in Belleville.
BELLEVILLE: A family-style country meal with the Easter Bunny will be the start to a fun-filled morning from 8 to 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Eckert’s Country Restaurant in Belleville.
The menu includes scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, susage, biscuits and gravy, cereal and fruit. Admission is $6 per child; $12 per adult. Reservations are recommended. Call 618-233-0513, extension 3.
MAEYSTOWN: Bunny Breakfast, Bunny sack races, bunny crafts, face painting, an Easter egg pinata and an Easter egg hunt are all part of the action from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Vici’s Front Porch & Tea Garden in Maeystown.
Admission is $10 per child; $15 per adult. Reservations are required at 618-539-3665. Vici’s is at 1109 Mill St.
The Caseyville Fire Department Auxiliary will present its 24th annual Easter Party from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Caseyville Community Building, 909 S. Main St. in Caseyville.
Admission is free. There will be lots of games to play; game tickets are four for $1. Pictures with Easter Bunny are $4. Hot dogs, tuna, soda and chips will be available. Receive one raffle ticket for cans of food or money donated to the Caseyville Food Pantry.
The 20th annual childrens Easter egg hunt will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Mini Park, 5600 Forest Blvd., in Washington Park. It’s sponsored by the Tom Qualls Foundation for People and nimals and Wishing Well Ministry.
Hop on down the Bunny Trail and fill your basket with fun at Easter Egg-Citement Friday and Saturday at Eckert’s Country Store in Belleville.
Egg hunts will take place at 10 and 11 a.m., noon and 1 and 2 p.m. No advance registration is required. Kids can see baby chicks and bunnies, the Easter Bunny, get their faces painted, plant a seed and ice a cookie. Admission is $10 per child. A photo with the Easter Bunny is $7.
Eckert’s is at 951 S. Greenmount Road.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society will hold a free Easter dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Cosgrove’s Kitchen, 3718 State St. in East St. Louis.