Twinkling brightness illuminates store windows, corner street posts and, of course, Temple Square.
Holiday lights, bold and glaring, capture the attention of even the weariest passers-by.
Holiday lights of another sort go unnoticed, blending from day to day, unrecognized.
For years, unheralded volunteers have worked to lighten the burdens others bear. Tireless efforts culminate annually in the Festival of Trees, the holiday fund-raiser for Primary Children's Medical Center.
The number of volunteer hours is never totaled, quantities of baked goods are seldom inventoried, craft contributions go untallied, yet the efforts of thousands are measured in another way.
The yardstick comes in the care extended to the hospital's patients and their families. Ensuring compassionate, competent medical care is the goal of the Women's Endowment Board in organizing the Festival of Trees.
Like Pat Conover of Springville, most festival volunteers have a personal reason for becoming benefactors. Conover recalled, "We had a son in the hospital for 45 days. I couldn't believe what a marvelous place PCMC is and what they did for us. The care cannot be matched, not just the personnel at the medical center, but the volunteer staff, too. I saw what they did, first hand, and I want to make sure others can be treated like we were."
The helping spirit of the festival is contagious. Kathy Groneman, as a Mapleton newlywed, caught it. Groneman's women's club was asked to donate pecan logs, a festival trade-mark. The task was challenging; none of the club members had made the candy before. Because she was willing to at least try the recipe, Groneman became the chairwoman. Groneman worked her way through the confectionary process until the product was satisfactory.
That was 11 years and five babies ago. The club is dissolved, friends are dispersed, but Groneman and her surviving kitchen crew, Gail Kendall and Karen Rayburn, have endured as pecan-log producers.
"It's a family project," said Rayburn. "We look forward to working together each fall. The kids get a chance to play, and we catch up on things we're too busy to during the summer."
"Our husbands help, too," Kendall said. "It's a muscle effort to beat the fondant, so we love to have a man take a relief shift on that step."
Their children also found a niche in the pecan-making process. Nicholas Groneman and Erica Kendall, both 10, are the head pecan snippers, a skill practiced through preschool years and finally mastered.
Other candy construction steps were not so easily managed by the children. But that doesn't mean the kids were ignored. "I can't tell you how many wild stories I've read over my shoulder while I was stuck in the caramel candy layers," Groneman recalled. "The kids had to remember just one rule--Mom could read, but the kids turned the storybook pages."
Groneman and her crew have donated pecan logs to the festival for 11 years. Ream's, a Utah County grocery, has contributed ingredients for the candy making, but the time commitment belongs exclusively to Groneman. Some years as many as 2,000 logs have been dispensed from Groneman's kitchen. A quick mathematical calculation--16-24 logs per batch and 2 and a half hours cooking and assembly time per batch--helps put Groneman's contribution to the festival in perspective.
Why such devotion to the festival? Groneman responded, "I know it sounds simple, but if I had someone up there (at PCMC) , I'd want someone helping me. Besides, you never know when the next child through the admission doors may be your own."
In a nutshell, the festival is people caring about other people.
It is a holiday tradition that lights the Christmas spirit in each of us as it lifts the burden of those in need.