By Cecily Markland
For the 35th year, Mesa Arizona Temple Light Display Celebrates the Birth of Christ
Thirty-five years ago, the Mesa Temple grounds were decorated for the Christmas season for the first time, with 5,000 blue lights placed in the trees.
Today, says Christmas lights director, Beckie Jackson, “There are too many lights to count,” with thousands of white, blue, gold and multi-colored lights illuminating the tall palm trees and twinkling among the flower gardens.
“We have tried to convey a feeling of sacred elegance. Our goal is to help visitors feel the special spirit of Christmas brings and help them remember that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World,” Beckie says.
Event spokesman Stephen Harms agrees, saying, “The display represents our belief in Christ as our Savior and our desire to proclaim that to the world. Of course people would be drawn to this place that centers on the Savior’s divine birth. Coming to the temple grounds to enjoy the lights is one of the finest ways to connect with the meaning of Christmas and to share the peace and joy of the season with loved ones and friends.”
For weeks before the lights are turned on, thousands participate in the outpouring of service it takes to construct the display each year.
“It’s something like a Christmas miracle, made possible by the wonderful volunteers who willingly do their part,” Beckie explains. Volunteers come from Scottsdale to Maricopa, Queen Creek to west Phoenix,in groups of 20 to 50 to help decorate the 50 different designated areas.
Along with the beautiful lighting is a large nativity and shepherds’ camp, over which hangs a star made of more than 10,000 LED lights. There, visitors can hear a recording, in Spanish or English, of the First Presidency sharing a Christmas message. Also in the garden area are figures of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem, of Isaiah who prophesied of Christ’s birth, and a spectacular statue of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, adorning the negative fountain just north of the temple.
Concert performances by musical groups—local church and school choirs, individuals and family groups—presented on the north side of the Visitors’ Center, being promptly at 7 p.m. each night from December 1 through 25. Concerts last approximately 30 minutes. Early seating is encouraged.
Inside the Visitors’ Center is a display of 75 to 100 nativity sets from approximately 50 countries, as well as the permanent 13-foot marble replica of the original Christus sculpture along with audiovisual presentations, exhibits, films and dioramas. The Visitor’s Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the Christmas lights event.
The lights are illuminated from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. beginning Friday, November 28 through Tuesday, December 31. There is no admission fee and no charge for any of the exhibits.
“This is our gift to the community. Our hope is that all who come will feel peace on the Temple Grounds and will remember the true meaning of Christmas,” Beckie says.
The Mesa Arizona Temple and Visitors’ Center is located at 525 E. Main Street. For more information or to view the concert schedule, visit www.mesachristmaslights.com.
Mesa Temple Christmas Concert Series
1 – Resounding Voices
2 – Tempe Institute Choir
3 – Greenfield Elementary Hand bell Choir
4 – Valley Vocal Ensemble
5 – Resonance Vocal Ensemble
6 – Heritage Academy Concert Choir
7 – St. Anne’s Catholic Church/Gilbert Stake Combined Choir
8 – Grace United Methodist Chancel Choir & Canterbury Bells
9 – Chandler Children’s Choir
10– Spirit of Phoenix Choir
11 – Chandler Gilbert Community College Concert Choir
12 – INSPIRE Chorus
13 – Duly Noted, Men’s Quartet
14 – The Noble Family
15 – Mesa High School A Cappella Choir
16 – Desert Echoes Flute Project
17 – Mountain View High School Chorale
18 – Red Mountain Singers
19 – 4 in Accord, Men’s Quartet
20 – The Kidmans, Women’s Trio
21 – East Valley Salon Concerts Chamber Ensemble
22 – Christian Dance Company
23 – The Hooper Family Strings & Friends
24 – The Harris Family
25 – Mesa Missionary Choir