The Lizard Butte Sunrise Service, the oldest continuous outdoor Easter Sunrise Service in the Pacific Northwest, had its beginning in the spring of 1937, when Ray and Marion Stafford of Marsing attended an Easter sunrise service while on vacation. Looking out their window at Lizard Butte upon their return, they realized that it would be a wonderful location for such a service in Idaho.
On February 14, 1938, representatives from several communities met to form the Lizard Butte Sunrise Association and to lay plans for a sunrise service. A temporary platform was built and the hill terraced for seating. The first service was held on April 17, 1938 with approximately 1000 persons in attendance.
The wooden cross built for the first service was burned by vandals two years later and was replaced by a cross of reinforced concrete, which stands above the valley floor to this day.
In order to insure that the sunrise service would continue to be held for years to come, the Association finally purchased 40 acres of Lizard Butte at a cost of $400.00.
The Easter morning program has followed a similar pattern from its beginning, starting with a bugle call and the appearance of two angels at the foot of the cross, a tradition that hasn’t changed in more than eighty years.
Many local churches, civic groups and organizations have donated time and money through the years to assist with the service. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps cleaned the hill of sagebrush and built roads. The Idaho Power Company extended a power line to the platform and has provided a week of electricity each year from Good Friday through Easter Sunday. Various scout troops have helped clean and patrol the grounds, and have posted the colors at each service. The Centennial Job Corps repaints the platform and the cross every year. And the Canyon County Sheriff's Office helps direct traffic to the butte.
As a deterrent to continued vandalism, the west and north sides of the property were fenced in the summer of 1995 and a swinging gate added at the north entrance.
Through faith in the Risen Christ and with the cooperation of many people from churches in the region, the story of Christ's resurrection has annually sounded forth from this lava outcropping to inspire and bless the tens of thousands who have attended through eight decades.
May the One who rose from the tomb, who ascended into Heaven, and who will one day will return for His own, continue to bless this Easter Sunrise tradition for many years to come as the service seeks to touch lives with the glorious message of the resurrection.