Families Make Mesa Temple Christmas Lights an Annual Tradition

Contributed By Jill Adair, Church News contributor

  • 22 December 2015

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights cover flower beds, shrubs, fences, walls, and trees, illuminating the Mesa Arizona Temple gardens nightly through December 31.  Photo by Scott Adair.

Article Highlights

  • The Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas lights are a tradition for many families.
  • The lights are on from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily through December 31.

Traditions are a big part of the Christmas season, and many families have made the Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas lights a part of their holiday celebration.

Ty and Christina Travis of San Tan Valley brought their four children to the temple grounds during the opening weekend.

“We come every year,” Brother Travis said. “I think it’s peaceful. It’s a nice chance for the kids to learn about the Christmas season and get it started off right.”

Rebecca Herbert of Phoenix also came with her children. “I love the temple. I love Christmas. I love exposing them to what Christmas is,” she said.

The lights are on from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily through December 31, and the visitors' center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Full-time sister missionaries serve as hosts on the temple grounds throughout the event, and they hear from many visitors that the lights are a special family tradition they wouldn’t miss.

“It’s a good time to gather as a family and to put Christ in their Christmas,” Sister Wisanbannawit, a full-time missionary from Thailand, said.

New this year are display stands outside with interactive QR codes that visitors can scan with mobile devices and be linked online to Church-produced videos that give deeper insight to eight scenes, including a large Nativity, Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, and the prophet Isaiah prophesying of Christ’s birth.

A star with 10,000 lights hangs high in the air above a Nativity scene on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Scott Adair.

Inside the newly remodeled visitors’ center is a seasonal Nativity exhibit with nearly 100 crèches from 50 countries. Visitors can view a 10-minute film depicting the birth of Christ and see the 13-foot marble replica of the Christus sculpture. In addition, there are new interactive exhibits about missionary work, the Book of Mormon, and the temple.

The Mesa Arizona Temple and visitors’ center, 525 E. Main St., is within walking distance of the new Valley Metro Light Rail stop on Main Street and Mesa Drive.

The event is in its 36th year, and organizers say they continue to view it as “a gift to the community.”

Stacey Farr, director of the Christmas lights display, said she oversees a large committee and thousands of volunteers who put on the event.

“All of us feel it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this beautiful opportunity to serve,” she said.

Her own family is involved, and even her grandchildren begin asking when it’s time to start helping.

“Every part of this is family,” she said.

Sister Farr’s brother, Keevin Willis, organized a family service project this year to erect the stage in front of the visitors’ center, which is used for 30-minute nightly concerts. They say it will become a yearly tradition in honor of their parents, Ronald and Veleda Willis, who were deeply involved in community and Church service.

Brother Willis had already been involved in setting up various displays for three years and loves being on the temple grounds.

“There’s a spirit here that makes you feel really close to Heavenly Father and our Savior,” he said.

For more information or to view the concert schedule, visit http://www.mesachristmaslights.com.

Isabella Villa, 6, came with her family to see the Christmas lights on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

Anna and Wesley Foister of Cincinnati, Ohio, in Arizona with their nine children for a family reunion at Thanksgiving, view a Nativity display after seeing the Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas lights on November 29. Photo by Clint Adair.

Five-year-old Sean King of Phoenix, Arizona, points to a Nativity scene inside the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center. Photo by Clint Adair.

Isabella Villa, 6, of Phoenix, looks at pine trees covered in Christmas lights at the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

New this year are display stands with interactive QR codes that visitors can scan with a cell phone and be linked online to Church-produced videos that give deeper insight to eight scenes, including the large Nativity scene. Photo by Scott Adair.

The garden area between the Mesa Arizona Temple and visitors' center is illuminated with thousands of colored lights in a celebration of the birth of Christ. Photo by Scott Adair.

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights cover flower beds, shrubs, fences, walls, and trees, illuminating the Mesa Arizona Temple gardens nightly through December 31. Photo by Clint Adair.

The Bradshaw family of Mesa poses for a photo with the temple and Christmas lights in the background, November 29. Photo by Scott Adair.