NEW YORK CITY — In the flash of a second, just as the evening holiday crowds began to gather on Times Square on Monday, Nov. 27, the iconic digital billboards went dark.
When they lit up again, they were filled with images of Jesus Christ and His birth and a global invitation for all to light the world: “This Christmas share His light by letting your light shine.”
Then, front and center, on the top sign in the heart of the square, a huge star appeared.
As the process unfolded, the crowds in the boisterous and bustling location quieted.
In a place where many tune out the advertising, it was special to see people stop and take note, said Cameron Kelly. The message “had a lot of love in it. … To see depictions and the Nativity in the epicenter of the center of the universe felt amazing.”
It is easy to get caught up in things that are trivial, he continued. “So to see something meaningful and eternal in this space … felt hopeful.”
The Times Square Nativity display, which lasted 30 minutes, was part of the Light the World initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The digital billboards featured stars, the Nativity, the Light the World logo and the logos of many charitable organizations working with the Church on the campaign. The billboard takeover followed the global launch of the 2023 Light the World Giving Machines campaign earlier in the day.
As the Nativity was reflected in Times Square, Nasario Martin, an evangelical Christian from Guatemala, could not believe his eyes. He took out his cellphone and started recording.
“I have never seen Jesus Christ in such a place before,” he said, referencing the power of the prominent message as the Christmas season begins.
“There are no words,” added Denika Torres. “It was magical.”
Her husband, Middoni Ramos, said the message — delivered in the center of New York City at the intersection of commerce, tourism and entertainment in the United States — was really special.
“This is something you don’t expect to see on Times Square,” he said.
It is hard to impress New Yorkers, added Torres. “But you just saw everyone being amazed.”