Again this holiday season, the bright lights are shining at the Mesa temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For the 37th straight year, the lights were turned on the Friday after Thanksgiving and will be on from 5 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31.
Adding to the festivities are nightly concerts at 7 from Dec. 1-25 in front of the church’s visitor center at 525 E. Main St. Performers range from bell ringers to soloists to children’s choirs to quartets and everything in between, said Stacey Farr, director of the Mesa temple Christmas lights project.
Also staying on display through Dec. 31 are 100 nativity sets inside the visitor center. People can view those from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Years ago, the display included a “forest,” Farr said. That had been discontinued, but is back for 2016. Artificial trees are decked out with lights and decorations and clustered together on the west side of the visitor center, offering people a chance to feel like they’re in a forest, she said.
“It makes it feel a little bit more wintry,” Farr said. “It’s magical.”
Last year, QR code reader machines were added to the holiday display and they return this year, Farr said. Eight display stands are scattered around. People can use smartphones to read the QR codes and be automatically linked to a portion of the LDS website with short videos.
Farr said church members view the light display as a gift to the community that has “grown to a wondrous display that is so serene and peaceful.”
The annual show began when volunteers put 5,000 “little blue lights on top of the visitor center,” she said. This year hundreds of thousands of lights are spread throughout the expanse of the temple grounds. There are too many lights to count, Farr said. But, for perspective, she said the big star that is suspended high above the display contains 60,000 lights. And, the tall palm trees alone hold 100,000 lights.
A conversion of all the lights to LEDs has been underway for several years, Farr said. While it’s not complete yet, 97 percent of this year’s lights are LED, meaning an extra-bright show.
Parking is available on both sides of the temple and the Valley Metro parking lot at Main. Lesuer, across the street from the temple, has 525 parking spaces.
Farr reminds people that the display is equally as beautiful during the day as it is after sunset.
“The gardens are spectacular,” she said.
Handicap parking spots are available, ramps lead to all parts of the display and the church has some wheelchairs in the visitor center which people can use.
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