Legend has it that the Easter Bunny has its origins in Fredericksburg, which explains why the city is preparing for a major annual event this weekend: the Easter Fires of Fredericksburg Pageant.
Michael Sagebiel, the chairman of the event and a fifth generation Fredericksburg native, says this version of the popular character’s origin dates back to when the city was founded in 1846.
“The original main settler was a gentleman by the name of John O. Meusebach,” Sagebiel says. “This was actually Comanche territory. Mr. Meusebach and a group of men left Fredericksburg and went up to San Saba River to meet with the Comanches.”
They made a peace treaty that was never broken by either side. The Comanches allowed the Germans to stay, but they had people to keep an eye on the settlers from the surrounding hills. At night, the Comanches would light big fires, which worried the newcomers.
Legend has it that one German women, to calm her children during the fires, devised a story.
“She knew that, in Germany, they always talked about the fairies would come and decorate the eggs,” Sagebiel says. “And she knew that the kids would never believe that there were fairies in Texas, so she came up with this story.”
In her version, the Easter rabbit was using the big flames to boil water to cook the eggs before decorating them.
On March 31at 8 pm, the Easter Fires of Fredericksburg Pageant will celebrate the legend with a performance that includes scenes of more than 100 live bunnies hatching from Easter eggs, as well as people dressed as bunnies hopping on stage.
“I was a bunny about 55 years ago,” Sagebiel says. “To see it come back is a big thrill to me, so I’ll be glad to see it. I invite everybody to come out.”
For tickets, visit the event’s website.