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Times Square digital billboards reflect the Nativity and an invitation to share the Savior’s light this Christmas

Crowds on Times Square quiet as the Nativity is shared in iconic location

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.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, look over the Light the World billboard signage unveiled in Times Square in New York City.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, look over the Light the World billboard signage unveiled in Times Square in New York City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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.

Crowds watch the Nativity displayed on Times Square billboards as part of the Light the World campaign for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City.
Crowds watch the Nativity displayed on Times Square billboards as part of the Light the World campaign for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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.”

Crowds watch the Light the World GIving Machine donation options displayed on Times Square billboards in New York City.
Crowds watch the Light the World GIving Machine donation options displayed on Times Square billboards in New York City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Crowds watch the Nativity displayed on Times Square billboards as part of the Light the World campaign for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City.
Crowds watch the Nativity displayed on Times Square billboards as part of the Light the World campaign for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Crowds look at Light the World billboards in Times Square in New York City.
Crowds look at Light the World billboards in Times Square in New York City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Above Light the World Giving Machines on Times Square in New York City, digital billboards share the Nativity story.
Above Light the World Giving Machines on Times Square in New York City, digital billboards share the Nativity story on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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Church launches 2023 Light the World Giving Machine campaign from Times Square
See locations, dates for Giving Machines in 2023
2023 Light the World Christmas initiative invites all to ‘Let Your Light Shine’
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