Looking back on the first ceremony when President McKay turned on the Temple Square Christmas lights

by | Nov. 30, 2020

For over 50 years, lights have decorated Temple Square at Christmastime, and even though the lights will be enjoyed virtually or from the exterior of Temple Square in 2020, they still bring brightness to Temple Square.

A recent Church News article looks back at the history of the lights on Temple Square. The article includes the history of the first lighting, which took place in 1965. On that occasion, President David O. McKay pressed a button which lit 40,000 lights on the square, stating in part, “God help us that we may have His Spirit, and may His light shine in the hearts of every man, woman, and child.”

That first year, a single arborist, J. Leland Behunin, hung all 40,000 lights by himself over the course of six weeks. Now, the preparations begin in August. Official lighting ceremonies continued until 1999, when capacity and safety concerns caused the official ceremony to cease. This year, on Friday, November 27, 2020, the lights once again turned on at Temple Square.

► You may also like: 20 things you didn't Know about Temple Square at Christmastime

This year, sister missionaries will lead a tour of Temple Square and the Christmas lights. The broadcast tour will air on December 1, 2020, at 6 p.m. (MST) on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and on the Temple Square Facebook page.

Read more about the history of Christmas lights at Temple Square at Church News.

Lead image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams joined the LDS Living team with a passion to find the stories that matter most. Previous stops in her career include BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the Special Projects Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah Valley Magazine. When she's not searching for stories to write, the Colorado Springs native is most likely on a hiking trail. Follow her on Twitter with the handle @lindsey5brooke.

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