We were thunderstruck to look at the National Weather forecast and see rain in the forecast for Saturday, 1 March. And not just a chance of rain, but a 90% probability. This was the day of the Gilbert Arizona Temple Cultural Celebration when 12,000 youth and another 5,000 adult leaders were gathering in Discovery Park, across the street from the new temple to celebrate the temple-and rain just couldn’t be a part of the picture.
To make things worse, Discovery Park is a retention basin where, in this desert land, rain water gathers when the rain falls hard. County officials had already told Rosanne Tidwell, director and chairman of the cultural celebration, that if even of rain gathered in the basin, the show would be closed down.
To cover these events for Meridian, we have been at many youth cultural celebrations across the Church, but none had even begun to approach this size. Moving 12,000 youth on an off a field, getting them in the right place, having a sound system where they can hear direction, outfitting them, making sure they had each costume piece, feeding them-it all sounded mind-numbing and challenging in good weather. What would they do if it rained?
We hoped that if it did rain, it would be a mere desert sprinkle-here and gone. The Saturday before, when the youth had their dress rehearsal, their pounding feet running on and off the field had stirred up whirls and clouds of dust-choking them and sending those with allergies to a first-aid station. Maybe a little bit of rain would be just enough to water down the dust and make it better. We’ll tell you what happened instead.
Click here to see 45 photos of remarkable youth in what could have been a devastating circumstance.