Celebrate Easter at the nation’s oldest, continuous, outdoor sunrise service atop Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, Sunday morning, April 8, 2012. The inter-denominational service is the very first Easter Sunrise event of its kind in America, first celebrated in 1909 at the peak of the mount at the foot of the Serra cross. The very spot where it continues to be held each and every year since.
The theme of the music and messages will be One Hope, One Church.
Limited parking is available at the base of Mt. Rubidoux at Tequesquite Ave.
Participants should plan for at least 45 minutes to walk to the top.
Admission is free.
No food or water is provided but portable toilets will be available.
Motorized transportation to the top for the elderly and disabled cannot be guaranteed. Arrive at the gate at Ninth Street and Mount Rubidoux.
In April 1909, Jacob Riis of New York, a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, was in town to give an address at the Mission Inn. He suggested holding an Easter sunrise service at the top of the mountain, and on the following Sunday, April 11, 1909, the first non-denominational outdoor Easter Sunrise Service in the United States was held at the top of the mount. Mission Inn founder, Frank Miller, and about 100 other people made their way to the summit of the mount that early Easter morning for the historic occasion. Riversiders and others have been taking part in the century-old tradition every year since. This year, marks the 103rd anniversary!
Each year after 1909, the service grew more grandiose and drew larger crowds. In 1912 an estimated crowd of 3,000 people were present to hear Henry Van Dyke read his poem, God of the Open Air. By 1915, the service had grown to over 10,000 attendees. International famous opera singer and Riverside native, Marcella Craft, performed as a soloist that year.
Due to the overwhelming popularity, and the increasing crowds, in 1915, Southern Pacific Railroad provided a special service from Los Angeles to Riverside just for the event. The Pacific Electric trolley system also implemented special service from Los Angeles, Corona, Redlands, and San Bernardino. The crowd count reached over 20,000 by 1922, 1925 and 1926, according to “The Story of Mount Rubidoux”, by DeWitt Hutchings, Frank Miller’s son-in-law. The annual service continued to become nationally and internationally known, drawing even larger crowds, including many celebrities. Peak attendance was reported to have exceeded 30,000 at the height of its popularity.
The popularity of the Mount Rubidoux Easter sunrise services spawned many other such services throughout the country, including an annual service at the Hollywood Bowl.
Interesting fun fact: In 1918 plans for an open-air 10,000-seat amphitheater designed by architect Frederick Heath were considered, but they were never implemented.
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