A live Nativity scene - part of a program being presented by members from stakes in Vermont and New Hampshire - is adding to the Christmas spirit at the place of Joseph Smith's birth.
The program is being presented on the grounds of the Joseph Smith Memorial each Friday and Saturday night in December until Christmas. Each night it is presented by different units in the Montpelier Vermont and the Concord New Hampshire stakes.The programs begin at 7 p.m. under the direction of the host units. There is a Christmas carol sung and a prayer offered. A member then speaks briefly about the light of Christ and a six-minute Nativity dramatization is presented. About 7:30 p.m., a guest, often a prominent non-member businessman or government official from the area, switches on the lights, which cast a Christmas glow throughout the grounds. Those attending are then invited into the warmth of the visitors center to view the movie "Witness of Christ."
Elder Reed Harding, director of the Joseph Smith Memorial visitors center, said between 500 and 800 people have been attending the evening programs during this season. Elder Harding, who is serving a mission with his wife, Joyce, added that anywhere from 45 to 300 cars drive through the visitors center grounds on other nights just to admire the festive lights.
Elder Harding said maple trees and bushes from the nearby South Royalton Ward meetinghouse to the memorial are adorned with colorful electric bulbs and the visitors center is also outlined with Christmas lights. One of the favorite displays for guests is the outline of a New England-style covered bridge done in lights over a roadway, he said.