`LDS Day at Giants' draws some 5,000

An estimated 5,000 Latter-day Saints crowded a parking lot at 3Com Park Aug. 29 for a Mormon-style tailgate party, marking the opening of LDS Day at the San Francisco Giants, the largest group event ever hosted by the professional baseball team.

Busloads of people traveled from outlying areas to the stadium - once known as Candlestick - for the game, adding thousands to those who made up the 35,000 total attendance for the game against the Philadelphia Phillies.LDS Day at the San Francisco Giants was planned to create visibility for the Church in a clean, wholesome way, said San Francisco stake Pres. Merrill Higham, who coordinated the event through the stake mission presidency. LDS Day at the San Francisco Giants was sponsored by the California Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Roseville and Santa Rosa missions.

Attending the game as guests of the Church's Bay Area Public Affairs Council were foreign dignitaries, including Alonso Perez-Marchelli, consul general of Venezuela; Rolando Perez, consul general of Panama; and Victorino M. Carrion, Philippine Trade and Consular Assistant.

Michael Pritchard, a Public Broadcasting Station personality, who is on the board of directors for the Giants' Community Fund, said he has done a lot of work with Church members and called LDS Day at the San Francisco Giants a great event that is reflective of the LDS community.

"The most important thing we can do is be involved," he said. "Whenever you do anything that brings together families of all races and backgrounds, you can't help but make a difference."

The tailgate party, which drew local media coverage, was planned around a theme of old-fashioned family fun. Carnival booths were set up with games that included basketball throws, bean-bag tosses and tic tac toe. The booths were staffed by 12 missionary couples who attended the event in a community service role.

"This party is a great opportunity for Latter-day Saints to show how Mormons support activities which strengthen families and create family unity," said Alan Olsen, president of the South Bay Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association, who, with his wife, Susan, personally brought 33 non-LDS friends to enjoy the day. Brother Olsen and Tom Hart, president of the North Bay Chapter of the alumni association, coordinated the tailgate party.

During the festivities, many people from surrounding tailgate parties put down their alcoholic beverages and joined in LDS activities.

A pre-game ceremony on the field honored prominent LDS athletes and others for their contributions to the community. Elder Norman Boehm, an Area Authority Seventy, presented awards to San Francisco 49ers football players, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Tim Hanshaw, Greg Clark and Mark Harris; San Francisco Giants Shawn Estes and Jeff Kent; University of California at Berkeley football Coach Tom Holmoe; Stanford basketball player Mark Madsen; former Miss California Tiffany Madsen; and former Stanford football player Josh Madsen.

According to Jim Moorehead, media relations manager for the Giants, Jeff Kent and Shawn Estes provided 500 tickets to LDS Day to community organizations throughout Northern California so low-income families would have an opportunity to attend.

Commenting on the festivities, Steve Young said, "I think these events are fantastic, because they show all we can do in a positive light. That makes all the difference in the world."

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