'First Night' in Salt Lake City

A long list of performers entertained in the packed Assembly Hall on Temple Square on New Year's Eve as the Church contributed an All-Star Musical Gala to Salt Lake City's "First Night" celebration.

The missionaries on Temple Square, according to director Joseph McPhie, remained on duty Dec. 31 until 11:30 p.m., conducting tours and showing visitors through the Tabernacle and visitors centers, as well as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building across the street.Alvin and Lena Marie Pack hosted the All-Star Musical Gala in the Assembly Hall that began at 6 p.m. and continued until 10 minutes to midnight. Then the audience moved to the Gallivan Utah Center plaza a couple of blocks south to bring in the new year with a show that included fireworks.

The Church also staged entertainment in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, including a woodwind ensemble of Utah Symphony members, and presented a special 10:15 p.m. showing of the popular movie "Legacy."

The Church activities were under the direction of those responsibile for the Temple Square Concert Series.

"From what I could see, overall I would say it was highly successful," said Iain B. McKay, chairman of the Temple Square Concert Series, who saw the Assembly Hall fill to overflowing by 5:30 p.m. and stay that way throughout the evening.

But what impressed him most was the demeanor of the people attending the First Night activities.

"There were older couples, families with young children, high school and college kids on dates," he said. "They were all polite, well controlled, happy, friendly and sensitive to the people around them."

Brother and Sister Pack produced the show in the Assembly Hall and said all of the performers were grateful for the opportunity to participate.

After a march of nations and the posting of flags from 50 countries, the show began. It included the Swiss Chorus Edelweiss, the show choir from Taylorsville High School, the BYU Ballroom Dancers and the Jay Welch Chorale among others. The Utah Pipe Band capped the evening with "Amazing Grace" and "Auld Lang Syne," played on the bagpipes.

Brother and Sister Pack said they put the show together in a week with no time for rehearsals.

"We asked the Lord for His help and placed ourselves in His hands," Sister Pack said. "Everything in connection with the performance went like clockwork."

Salt Lake City's First Night, with activities at 14 locations, was patterned after similar celebrations in more than 100 cities across the country. Its purpose is to provide a New Year's Eve activity that is alcohol-free and appropriate for families.

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