More than 300,000 people expected at Payson open house

Posted at 10:55 PM, Apr 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-22 00:55:37-04

PAYSON, Utah - The LDS Payson Temple, at 100,000 square feet, is visible from Interstate 15.

Church officials say it's one of the church's largest temples anywhere.

"It's gorgeous. It's really beautiful marble and nice dark wood and is just gorgeous inside," said Payson resident Emily Hadlock.

While most say they think it adds to the beauty of the area, neighbors worry about the traffic they'll see over the next month. Church officials anticipate 400,000 to 500,000 people will attend the open house, which begins on Friday and goes through May 23.

"This is an HOA. And we've heard from the HOA that it's about 400 cars an hour is what they're expecting," said resident Emily Bennett.

Businesses are preparing for the big crowds that will come through during the open house. Church officials say more than 300,000 reservations have been made. Payson has a population of 20,000.

"We've brought on extra staff, we've been in contact with our families so that they can give us the support [we] need and we've also been increasing our inventory, so we don't run out," said Jill Stewart, owner of Sip n' Spot.

Twenty-thousand volunteers will be on hand to help at the open house. On Tuesday, church officials took members of the media on a tour inside the temple. The interior features an apple orchard motif to celebrate Payson's farming culture, mahogany wood from Africa, marble from Portugal, Spain and Turkey, and 19 pieces of original artwork.

"It is an exquisitely beautiful temple as anyone will see who has the opportunity to go inside," said LDS church leader Larry Wilson.

Members of the church previously had to travel to Provo or Manti to visit a temple. The Payson temple will cover 27 stakes from Spanish Fork to Nephi.

"To have a temple in their own environment and in their own community is really wonderful," said Kent F. Richards, executive director of the temple department for the LDS church. "It becomes their own temple and they love to come and worship here."

The Payson temple will be dedicated on June 7. On June 6, a cultural celebration will take place with 13,000 youth from across the area at the Lovell Edwards Stadium. Church officials say 60,000 people are expected to attend.