Renaissance Festival offers Easter service fit for a king
Of all the Easter services delivered in Tampa on Sunday, perhaps none was as diverse as the one held in a dusty parking lot where a queen read passages from a Bible held by a missionary on his knees.
Attending were courtiers and courtesans and matronly maidens in waiting and wood sprites; ribald wenches and, somewhere nearby, a big-boned guy in a pink bunny suit.
The non-denominational Easter service held outside the front gate of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival on Sunday morning included more than 50 festival goers, waiting to get inside the sprawling grounds near the Museum of Science and Industry.
The short service included orations and responses and was led by Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of British King Henry VIII, who, her portrayer said, was quite a scholar in Anglicanism at the time.
“She was a great Protestant mind and wrote a lot about it,” said noted local thespian Caroline Jett, who played the queen.
Jett said once in a while the festival falls on an Easter Sunday and an Easter service is scheduled. She is a lay Eucharistic minister with a local Episcopal Church, which gives her the chops for the role of queen/minister.
Inside the gates, Easter was observed as well. There were Easter bunnies and an egg hunt. A King Henry's Brunch featured regal stuff like prime roast beef and gravy, blood-orange mimosas and muffins, Cajun shrimp and sausage and petit fours and salmon lasagna.
“For the people who come here on Easter Sunday,” she said, “we have everything they need.”
Unlike Christian church congregations around the area, attendance of the Renaissance Festival Easter Service is unpredictable, Jett said.
“We never know,” she said beforehand. “Sometimes there are five, sometimes 10, sometimes 50.”
She and a half dozen other Renaissance Festival actors gathered outside the gate at 9:30 a.m. under a warming sun and in the dust raised by some passing vehicles.
“Come thee hither,” announced one of the troupe.
Among the congregation was Joey Redman of Bradenton, who stopped for the sermon on her way into the festival.
“I'm not the person you want to talk to,” she said after the service ended. “I'm an atheist. I didn't plan on going to an Easter Sunday service today.
“It was cute, though.”