On June 3, more than 12,000 people will come together at the Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho for the Youth Cultural Celebration of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple rededication.
The title of the event is: Temple by the River – Reflections. The event will have a narrative of the history of the Snake River Valley and include a youth choir, dances and performances.
“We have a choir of 500 voices that will be in place the entire program,” said Ronda Groberg, one of the committee chairs over the cultural celebration. “They will be singing three numbers of just them, and the entire ensemble will be singing and dancing throughout the event. We decided on the music for the program, and we decided for one of the songs that the choir sings are to be an old anthem that was sung at both the cornerstone ceremony and original dedication of the Idaho Falls Temple in 1945. The song is ‘Let the Mountains Shout for Joy’.”
Gaylene Meservey, the executive director of the cultural celebration, said they want the youth in the event to know and understand the importance of the temple.
“We want them to know why it is here and what it is about,” Meservey said. “We want this cultural celebration to remind them why we have the temple, and we want them to have desire to want to be at the temple. We want them to remember this event.”
Richard and Ronda Groberg are the committee chairs over the entire cultural celebration and were a part of the decision-making process for this event. Alongside four unit directors, Richard and Ronda Groberg had a major part in deciding the name of the event.
“We wanted to have something that showed how the Idaho Falls Temple is the only temple built on a river bank,” Richard Groberg said.
Ronda Groberg said they chose to name it “Reflections” because they wanted to show the importance of the reflection over the Snake River Valley and also the reflections in an individual.
“The cultural celebration will present things about bringing the water to this valley and the pioneers who struggled here to make this area a place where the Lord could have his house built,” said Doyle Batt, a local chairman for the open house, cultural celebration and rededication.
Preparations for the cultural celebration began in October of last year, and there are about 2,000 adults who are involved in the process of the celebration.
Ronda Groberg said altogether there are “around 12,000 youth involved in the program, 43 stakes and close to 400 wards (who will be involved in the event that night).”
Meservey wrote the script, planned the movement and oversaw everything to make sure the event came together.
“We based the script around the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple and what the valley was like before the temple was built,” Meservey said. “We go through the development of the valley and early settlers, to the temple being built and then stopped for a period of time for World War II, and to when it was finished in 1945 and to the current time of the temple being rededicated to serve the valley.”
Meservey said they are trying to portray this history through acting, dancing and singing.
Camille Gold, the director of a specialty dance number said she has been working for three months, putting together a dance routine for the event.
“The dance number that I am in charge of is with 65 Aaronic Priesthood boys ages 12-18,” Gold said.
She said the dance they are doing is a reenactment of an actual meeting Church leaders had when the temple was under construction in 1937.
“They gathered boys from all over the area when the temple was first being built for meetings, and they spent the time playing games and having fun; then they had some spiritual meetings, and they even did baptisms in the river by the temple,” Gold said.
Meservey said all the youth will sing, dance and move, and they are all involved throughout the entire program.
She said a lot of time has gone into not only planning the event but finding the location, especially a location which would be large enough to hold a large audience, and lots of dancers and organizers.
She said the Holt Arena was the only location which would fit such a large amount of people.
“We will break the attendance record at Holt Arena the day of the cultural celebration, with the 12,000 youth, the adult organizers and the audience,” Meservey said.
According to Idaho State University’s Athletics webpage, Holt Arena’s capacity is around 12,000 people.
Along with planning the event and finding the venue, there are a lot of hours spent in planning the little details; this also includes costume design.
Ronda Groberg said there was around 28 miles worth of fabric which was ordered for costumes alone.
Ronda Groberg said most of the costumes were done on the ward level. A head seamstress who works with seamstresses from each ward has dedicated hours in the design, deciding on fabric and how to make each costume.
“It is incredible to see how willing everyone has been to work,” Richard Groberg said. “We asked them to do something and each one of them, from the executive group, to stakes to wards, are willing. Everyone is just so excited, not only for the cultural part, but also for rededication of the temple and being able to go back to the Idaho Falls Temple.”
Batt said the rededication is a new start to allow people to honor their ancestors by performing sacred ordinances for them and to see families sealed together.
“We reflect on the past and look forward to the bright future with this iconic temple by the river,” Batt said. “This newly renovated temple will be here in the future for the youth who are performing. It will be their temple like it was the temple for the pioneers who helped built it.”