70,000 lights bejewel prophet's birthplace

More than 70,000 visitors are expected to visit Joseph Smith's birthplace during 1993, said Elder Robert M. Mills, director of the Joseph Smith Memorial Historical Site.

This is almost double the number who visited the previous year, he said.The two annual "Lighting Spectacular" ceremonies held the weekend following Thanksgiving drew large crowds, he said. At each ceremony, the 70,000 lights decorating the area around the monument blazed to life and illuminated the hillside.

The lighting ceremonies were held Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27. Pres. Robert J. Norman of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission flipped the switch on Nov. 26, and a local businessman, Herb Crawford, turned on the lights the next night.

A total of some 2,500 attended the two ceremonies and listened to group singing and watched a Nativity pageant. Following the 20-minute programs, about 1,500 people toured the visitors center.

On the nights immediately following the ceremonies, from 80 to 100 cars drove up the illuminated lane leading to the monument. Most of the people stayed in their cars in the snowy, 20-degree weather to view the lights. Occasionally some took tours.

Even though many of the visitors didn't get out of their cars, their visit required some dedication. The monument is about six miles from Sharon, and another three miles from the nearby highway 14. One recent carload of visitors had come about 100 miles to see the lights. And a recent heavy, seven-inch snowstorm didn't stop visitors who arrived in four-wheel drive vehicles.

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