Choir notes precede dramatic moment

The Tabernacle Choir provided melodic accompaniment to the revelry and upbeat suspense preceding the announcement June 16 that Salt Lake City would host the Winter Olympics in 2002.

Promptly at 9 a.m. a procession of marching bands and drill teams proceeded down State Street ending at the front steps of the Salt Lake City and County Building at 400 South Street. There, the choir stood poised to perform, dressed in festive colors, the women in red blouses and navy blue skirts and the men in light-blue suits and red ties.As Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe lit a torch, the singers launched into a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Tabernacle Choir announcer Lloyd D. Newell then told the crowd thronging the grounds, 50,000 strong, that the choir would present a program.

The choir sang "America the Beautiful" and "You're a Grand Old Flag."

"Regardless of the outcome of today's decision . . . we as citizens of Utah have many reasons to be grateful," Brother Newell said, then announced the next selection would be "An American Tribute," a medley of "This Land Is Your Land," "Shenandoah," "Dixie," and "This Is My Country."

Other selections included "God Bless America," and from Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "An Actor's Life for Me." The culmination of the performance was the choir's signature song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

A local television personality commented at the conclusion of the performance that it would be wonderful to hear the choir sing at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in 2002.

That possibility seemed closer to reality when the announcement of the winning bid came at 11:30 a.m. Gazing at a huge television screen to the west of the building grounds across State Street, the crowd watched a transmission from Budapest, Hungary. They heard this announcement from International Olympic Committee Pres. Juan Antonio Samaranch: "The . . . committee has decided to award the organizing of the 19th Winter Games for 2002 to the city of Salt Lake City."

The applause was so vehement it could be felt physically as well as heard.

In the afternoon, the First Presidency issued the following statement:

"The Church will cooperate with state and city officials in their efforts to be hospitable hosts of the 2002 Winter Olympics. We will do what we can to help make the athletes, visitors and other guests from around the world feel welcome. We hope this will be a satisfying and productive time for all involved."