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Mayor lauds LDS 'firsts' in lighting program

MAYOR LAUDS LDS `FIRSTS' IN LIGHTING PROGRAM

THOUSANDS OF LIGHTS BRIGHTEN LOS ANGELES TEMPLE GROUNDS WITH THE FLIP OF A SWITCH; AREA CHOIR AND CAROLERS ENTERTAIN GATHERINGThe mayor of the nation's second largest city praised the beauty of the Los Angeles Temple and credited the Mormons with many of the state's "firsts" at a Christmas lighting ceremony here.

Mayor Tom Bradley on Nov. 26 told approximately 3,000 people gathered on the grounds of the temple here that Church members have a proud history in the city of Los Angeles and the state of California."Mormons established the first school in California, and the first newspaper," he noted. "They planted and grew the first crop of wheat and established the first bank."

In addition, the mayor said, soldiers from the Mormon Battalion raised the first U.S. flag above the city more than 140 years ago.

"We would be a little prairie patch if Mormons had not been here," Mayor Bradley added, laughing.

Mayor Bradley told the audience he remembered passing the temple every day as a student at UCLA and admiring the beautiful structure. He also admired Church members for their history of conviction and dedication, regardless of persecution.

"Mormons have fought oppression," he said. "And we must preserve that freedom of worship for all."

After he finished his address, Mayor Bradley walked over to a nearby switchbox and flipped the switch that turned on the lights scattered over the temple grounds.

Although he had other appointments and had to leave the ceremony early, Mayor Bradley stayed to hear the singing of "Joy to the World," performed by the Southern California Mormon Choir, which provided the music for the lighting ceremony.

The choir also sang additional numbers, and smaller groups of carolers from wards in the area were located throughout the grounds to entertain visitors as they enjoyed the lights. "It was nice to be able to wander around the temple grounds enjoying the beautiful lights and hear the Christmas carols in the background," remarked Beth Paullin, a regional public communications director.

Lighting the Los Angeles Temple grounds for Christmas has been an annual event since 1979. Last year, the Christmas lights and decorations were destroyed in a severe wind storm and Los Angeles Basin stakes joined forces to finance the purchase of new lights, according to Sister Paullin. "There are probably more than 10,000 lights this year," she said.

Temple patrons and those who visit the temple grounds won't be the only ones to enjoy the Christmas lights, according to Sister Paullin. Figures compiled by the city's transportation department indicate that almost 60,000 people every day drive along Santa Monica Boulevard past the temple.

"Those people will also see the temple, and, when the lights are turned on in the evening, will be attracted to the beauty of the Christmas lights," she said.

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