LDS youth prepare for cultural celebration


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A cast of thousands, literally, is rehearsing for a huge two-night event at the Conference Center this week. Latter-day Saint teens are celebrating two new temples in the Salt Lake Valley.

For years, teenage members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have participated in temple dedications in their countries with cultural celebrations. Their leaders say this is a way to connect them to the sacred buildings. Now it's time for the Utah version.

Church leaders asked them to create one program with performances on two evenings. Their music and dances celebrate all of the cultures in our state.

Church leaders say this production is an historic moment. "It's really the first time in our valley that we will do this, probably, maybe the only time. But we're dealing with about 15,000 youth, and the idea was we wanted this to be special," said Elder John Pingree, co-chair of the Temple Cultural Celebration.

Dancer Lauren Criddle, said, "I thought it was a good idea because we're gonna do it in the Conference Center, and it's a huge place, and I've always wanted to come in here, and because it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

"I've never really, like, been in the same room with the prophet, and we're going to be and performing for him, so it's going to be fun," said Maggie England, also a dancer in the cultural celebration.

Some of the young people are dancers; others are singing in the choir. The performances take place Friday night at 8:00 and Saturday night at 7:00 at the Conference Center.

This program will also be broadcast by satellite to the larger church buildings or stake centers in Draper and South Jordan so all family members and friends can see the performances.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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