The Ramona Pageant in Hemet
I have an interest in this play because both my parents, and their brothers and sisters were at one time or another part of the Ramona Pageant, in the 1930's when they were small children, and later my dad played an Indian brave when he was about 16.....And, at the very beginning of her acting career, a certain Raquel Welch even played the part of Ramona....Now how about that!
Helen Hunt was born Helen Maria Fiske in Amherst, Massachusetts, a daughter of Nathan Welby Fiske and Deborah Waterman Vinal. ...She had two brothers, who both died right after birth, and a sister named Anne....Her father was a minister, author, and professor of Latin, Greek language, and philosophy at Amherst College.
She attended Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Institute.. She was a classmate of the poet Emily Dickinson, also from Amherst.. The two carried on a correspondence for all of their lives, but few of these letters have survived.
In 1852, Helen Fiske was married to Army Captain Edward Hunt, who died in a military accident in 1863.. Helen Hunts sons died very early....Her son, Murray Hunt, died in 1854 of a brain disease, then her other son, Rennie Hunt, died of diphtheria in 1865. With her family gone Helen began to write.
She traveled a great deal.. In the winter of 1873-1874 she was in Colorado Springs, Colorado in search of a cure for tuberculosis. There she met William Jackson, a wealthy banker and railroad CEO.. They married in 1875 and had ten years together before cancer claimed Helen in 1885.
Helen was greatly interested in the lives of the Indians who lived through out the Inland Empire.. She and her second Husband William, even went before Congress to fight for Indian Causes. Her most well known book, the Ramona Pageant portrays the ill fated love affair of Mexican Ramona, and her Indian love Alessandro.....Helen wrote the Ramona Pageant in 1884, one year before her death.
Using an entire mountainside as its stage, in Western Hemet, a cast of over 400 adults and children present the poignant love story.. The pageant features horses, troubadours, Hispanic folk dance and even mariachis, which, coupled with the show's stunning mountainous setting, never fail to thoroughly entertain audiences.