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