Christmas lights on Temple Square in pictures from 1965-2015

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

Christmas is a time of giving, renewed devotion, hope, snow, festive songs and lights. And Christmas lights are a renowned specialty at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

The lights on Temple Square — lit this year on Nov. 27 — have been a tradition for decades.

In 1965, David O. McKay, then-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked arborist J. Leland Behunin to pioneer the project of stringing Christmas lights on Temple Square.

Nearly 15,000 people attended the first “Lighting of Temple Square," according to a 2011 Deseret News article. When President McKay touched the button to turn on the 40,000 lights, the Deseret News reported that “a mighty aah of appreciation went up from the crowd."

On that historic occasion, President McKay said, “Our minds tonight should be on the babe of Bethlehem, whose coming into the world Christmas morning reminds us all that we each should have in our hearts the love of Christ.”

From 1965-1982, Behunin and his son, Ben, wrapped the Temple Square trees in Christmas lights. The church took over the undertaking after that.

Over the years, millions have enjoyed the atmosphere the lights create on Temple Square during the Christmas season.

Click through to see pictures of the lights on Temple Square through the years.

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Pleasant Grove, UT

Thanks for sharing. Wonderful trip down memory lane. emb

Logan, UT

Is it just me or does it seem like they have been putting up less lights at Temple Square? I remember there being a lot more even just a few years ago.

Silver Stingray
St. George, UT

You are right. The lights are getting somewhat sparse. Few of the trees on Temple Square itself have them anymore. Big disappointment.

Altamont, UT

CAB90 and Silver Stingray, I read somehwere that it's damaging to the trees to string so many lights. This is probably why.
I miss them too.

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