OGDEN, Utah About 7,500 youth from 60 Utah North Area stakes welcomed in the new year with music, confetti cannons, food and dancing at the Dee Events Center described as a Church version of the traditional event at Times Square.
With a theme of "Honoring Yesterday by Celebrating Tomorrow," the celebration was held to begin observance of the 200th birthday of Joseph Smith and the 175th anniversary of the Church, both 2005 events.
Brief remarks were given by Elder Errol S. Phippen, Area Authority Seventy; and Sister Ardeth Kapp, a former Young Women general president. Entertainment was provided by LDS musicians Alex Boy, who was accompanied by the BYU Break Dancers, Peter Breinholt and his band, Greg Simpson and his band, and ComedySportz, an LDS improv group.
A winter snowstorm slickened streets even before the event started, limiting attendance from outlying areas, but some stakes, such as those in Morgan, Utah, hired school buses to bring the youth down Weber Canyon to ensure their safety.
In his remarks, Elder Phippen thanked those who had made the evening possible and invited the youth to contribute what funds they had for the relief of tsunami victims.
"I believe that this is the first time in the Ogden, Utah, area that anything like this has been done," he said afterwards. "We wanted to create an event that would begin the year by expanding our feelings to the young about the 200th birthday of Joseph Smith and the 175th anniversary of the Church." He explained that the youth were given free tickets and asked to keep Church dress standards.
"The overall feeling was that it was a wonderful event."
In her remarks, Sister Kapp told the youth to "Awaken to the significance of your time in history," and reminded them that the prophets of all previous dispensations have looked forward to this time.
"We are celebrating New Year's Eve using the year of the Prophet's 200th birthday," she said. "When he was a young boy of 14, Joseph entered a grove of trees with a prayer, and the Lord heard him."
She encouraged the young people to understand the significance of their time, and to carry forward on their mission by building on the foundation of what has been laid.
"Young women, you have a special, noble calling to be righteous young women and stand for truth and righteousness at all times and in all things, and in all places." Youth, she continued, "are the link between all that has gone before, and all that is coming after."
"This is your time. We have great confidence in you."
She was thrilled to hear the choral group sing "God Bless America," as they sang "with their whole heart and soul. I could feel their commitment. While it was a rousing celebration, there was a spirit among the youth that was just magnificent and it renewed my rooted belief in the youth of this time, this challenging time," she said afterward.
Following these remarks, the entertainers began. Between half-hour acts, the Weber State University blimp, which is housed in the center, dropped donated prizes. Other prizes were lofted into the seats with slingshots. Youth took turns dancing on the limited floor space. They also enjoyed free food and candy bars some 17,000 cans of soda, 10,000 packages of cookies and 9,000 candy bars were provided by the stakes.
As the high-energy event drew near its conclusion, Brother Breinholt brought all the performers back on stage and they sang while the last seconds were counted down. A confetti cannon, noisemakers and a light show signaled the moment the new year arrived.
Afterwards, a light show featured giant profiles of the Prophet Joseph Smith on each wall as a bagpipe band played "Praise to the Man."
Master of ceremonies was Curtis Doussett, and co-chairmen of the event were Steven D. King and Heber and Ardeth Kapp.