About 5,000 people visited the Elk Grove Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Sunday for the final day of the seventh annual Elk Grove Nativity Scene. The three-day event was expected to draw 7,500 people. Visitors were treated to 520 nativity sets from around the world, as well as four Christmas trees decorated by Hmong and Latin American church members and parishioners from the Marshall Islands and Tonga. New this year was a 1/35th scale plywood model of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City and a cloth creation of the first Mormon temple in Kirtland, Ohio. Church rooms and hallways were transformed into exhibit areas, with the creches displayed on 63 tables. A total of 75 volunteers, including 25 designers, took two days to set up the displays.
On the top of every hour, children from the community and local wards of the Mormon church would perform a live nativity, in which the story of the birth of Jesus Christ was told in rhyme by an announcer. At the bottom of each hour, adults in small choirs would sing Christmas songs.
“It’s all about the atmosphere,” said John Cassinat, president of the Sacramento Stake, who had approved the initial display of 350 creches from an Elk Grove parishioner at the church seven years ago. “When we saw the response of the community the first year, we thought it would be a great thing to do as a community event, and share the true spirit of Christmas.”
– Tillie Fong
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