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Christmas Lights on Temple Square - 2007

Lighting the Christmas lights on temple square is an annual event that workers on temple square prepare for months in advance.  My zone leader (in 2008) asked a grounds keeper how many strands of lights they used.  He said on the 3 horse-chestnut trees by the temple they put 600 strands on each tree.  You heard right -- 600 strands per tree!

You ought to see the electrical requirements.  At the base of each tree it looks like some very heavy wiring.  For the trees on the Plaza and the other side of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building alone, not even counting the rest of temple square, they install 3,000 strands of Christmas lights.

The photo below was taken last August.  That's when workers began putting lights in the trees on temple square. 

They begin at the top of the tree and work their way down, completely covering the tree.  By the way, this tree is one of the famous "Cedars of Lebanon" referred to so often in scripture.  I've been told they only put lights in this tree every other year because the process is so rough on the limbs.

Workers continued until this past week when they redoubled their efforts to finish in time for officially turning on the lights the day after Thanksgiving.  Earlier this week I saw these workers in the reflecing pool below the temple placing floating lights and connecting the
waterproof power cords that keep them lit.

One interesting worker was this one.  She's using a vacuum to vacuum up all the money people throw into the pools to "make wishes."  The money is donated to the Primary Children's Hospital.

On Friday, as we were headed toward temple square about 4:45 PM it was still bright day.

Night falls quickly in the Rocky Mountain valleys.  We could see these rustic lamps already placed around the log cabin which is the oldest home in the valley.  It's been moved several times over the years and is now located on the plaza between the Museum and
the Family History Library.

Garland has been placed on the wall around temple square.  The wall was built between August 3, 1852 and May 23, 1857.  It is 13 feet high and has a stone  base three feet thick.  The upper part of the wall was constructed of adobe glazed over with lime plaster
and capped with sandstone blocks 3 feet 3 inches long, 2 1/2 feet wide, and eight inches thick. 

After we entered temple square we headed straight for the plaza between the north visitor's center and the Tabernacle where the "wise men" were.  I wanted us to get a few photos of this magnificent display before dark.

There are wise men, children with their families, animals, trees, and rocks.

There's the manger scene where Joseph and Mary prepared for the birth of Christ.

There also are shepherds tending their flocks.

Notice how lifelike the figures are. 

After the lighting ceremony, a broadcast is given here every 20 minutes telling about the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ but more than that, the president of our church speaks in a recording of how the Savior atoned for our sins at the close of His life.

While Sister Vincent took the photographs I videotaped the whole evening.  We had to
wear protective clothes because of the intense cold.  It dropped to well below freezing
before the night was over.

Helicopters flew noisily overhead to capture the moment from above as the lights were
turned on.

Finally at 5:30 PM it was dark enough and the lights were turned on on all the trees. But
more on that later.  Plenty more.  For the moment before they turned on the lights, while
it was still dark, we got this magnificent shot of the temple.

The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated on April 6th, 1893, by the president of the church,
Wilford Woodruff, 40 years to the day after Brigham Young had directed the laying of the
cornerstones.  The temple rises 222 feet to the top of the 12 foot figure of the angel
Moroni.  It cost four million dollars to build in days when a gallon of molasses would be
pay for a full day's labor.

We listened to the short broadcast at the manger scene, then we went inside the north
visitor's center to warm up.  Here we saw hundreds of people doing the same thing.  We
waited until some of the crowds cleared to take the picture of this little manger scene at
the base of a Christmas tree.

Then we went back outside to begin photographing the lights.  First we walked south
down the center walk between the temple and the Tabernacle.

We turned to face southwest and the Assembly Hall.  I love the lights on this blue tree.
The night colors don't do it justice.  It was more purplish than blue and it glowed.

Lights on the trees around the Assembly Hall were all red and orange-yellow.  Lights lined
each window.

The Assembly Hall was built on the site of the old adobe tabernacle which was completed
in 1852 and torn down in 1870.  Completed in 1880, the Assembly Hall was built of left
over granite used to build the Salt Lake Temple.

The building was initially used for meetings of the Salt Lake stake, the oldest stake in the
church.  It is still used as a stake center for the Salt Lake Stake conferences.  Other stake
meetings and offices are elsewhere and the Assembly Hall is used, as in the old days, for
general church affairs.  The term stake comes from the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied
that the latter-day Church would be like a tent, held secure by stakes (see Isaiah 54:2).

Further south down the center path we saw these decorations.  In spite of the cold, there
were still thousands on temple square enjoying the beautiful lights.  As many headed off
to shop, there were those of us who came only to see the lights and celebrate the season.

The big cedar tree appeared in the distance all covered in red lights.  It's hard to believe
this tree came here as a seedling so many decades ago brought over from Lebanon.  If
you want to compare how truly big this tree is, scroll back to the top of this page to see
it in the daylight.  It's the first picture that appears on this page.

Many families were interviewed by the news media.  This reporter from ABC channel 4
was interviewing a family about why they're here (see the cameraman in black jacket to
 the right of the photo).  We got to hear the interview on the 10:00 o'clock news later.

Here's another shot of that red tree.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the festive atmosphere of the occasion.  This little tyke
kept running back and forth enjoying the freedom.