Hundreds of thousands of colorful lights adorn trees, shrubs and flower beds of the Mesa Arizona Temple gardens, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and helping to “Light the World.”
Held as an annual community event, this year the display supports the Church’s new Christmas initiative “Light the World,” which encourages daily acts of service leading up to Dec. 25.
And acts of service are what make it all possible.
Stacey and Gary Farr serve as directors of the lighting event but credit more than 3,000 volunteers who offer their helping hands in a variety of ways.
“It’s a sight to behold!” said Sister Farr of the amount of time and effort that is given during the weeks leading up to the day after Thanksgiving, when the lights are officially turned on. The lights are on nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31.
A variety of displays help tell the story of Christ’s birth, including a large outdoor crèche, shepherds’ field, Mary and Joseph figurines, the prophet Isaiah and much more.
And countless Christmas lights dangle from tall palm trees, wrap tightly around tree trunks and hang from branches, cluster in bouquet-like arrangements on the ground and cover flower beds and low walls.
“ ‘Light the World’ — that’s exactly what we’re doing in this little corner of the world,” Sister Farr said.
Inside the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center, visitors can watch a short video highlighting the initiative and encouraging viewers to learn more about service ideas at Mormon.org.
“It’s a great program that we’re participating in,” said Elder Norman Ashton, director of the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center.
He said he anticipates more than 150,000 visitors to come inside the center at 525 E. Main St. during the event to see a video, view the 13-foot “Christus,” enjoy various exhibits or discover a room full of Nativity scenes from around the world.
Susan Fuller of the Tempe Arizona South Stake pulls together the special crèche exhibit each year and says this year there are 145 sets for visitors to see.
Elder Ashton says visitors come from all over to see the lights and enjoy what’s offered inside.
“There is nothing quite like it,” he said. “It’s something that many look forward to every year.”
The Cronin family lives close by and the parents say they bring their children to visit several times during the Christmas season.
“They love it,” said Crystal Cronin. “They love the lights.”
Lubna Dent, who is from Pakistan but now lives in Arizona, visited for the first time five years ago and returned again this year.
“The moment I entered I was in awe,” she said. “The people from their hearts are trying to spread the light of Christ and His message of hope. It’s amazing how they do it out of love and service.”
The event also includes 30-minute concerts presented on the north lawn nightly at 7 p.m.
For more information about the Temple Garden Christmas Lights Display or to view the concert schedule, visit www.mesachristmaslights.com.
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