- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2021

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Friday it has canceled the annual Christmas lights display at its landmark temple in Kensington, Maryland.

A statement said the temple’s Festival of Lights, held for 43 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, was scrapped over health concerns and an emphasis on getting the recently renovated facility ready for an open house next year in advance of a June 19, 2022, dedication by church leaders.

Bridge repairs on Beach Drive in Kensington near the structure were also a major factor in the closing, regional spokesman Kurt Hanson said.

On almost any given evening during the holiday season in pre-pandemic years, the striking, white Alabama marble-clad Kensington Temple would be abuzz with crowds of families viewing the lights displayed throughout the grounds, along with live Nativity displays.

Inside the temple’s visitor’s center — which also remains closed, the church said — many of those same visitors would pass through rooms filled with artistic Nativity scenes from around the world. Local LDS church choirs and singing groups often would perform concerts as well.

Officials did not immediately provide a total number for visitors in 2019, the last year the program was held.

The LDS temple news came two days after the District’s Smithsonian National Zoo said it was canceling the 2021 holiday season “ZooLights” display and earlier “Boo at the Zoo” Halloween program.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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