Weekly 5: Fun facts about General Conference

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Young Women wait in anticipation for the 2013 General Young Women's Meeting to start at the conference center in Salt Lake. A lot of preparation goes into getting the Conference Center ready each spring and fall. (Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom).
Young Women wait in anticipation for the 2013 General Young Women’s Meeting to start at the conference center in Salt Lake. A lot of preparation goes into getting the Conference Center ready each spring and fall. (Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom).

There are many fun factors that go into General Conference. Five of them are the translating, preparing the rostrum, decorations, lighting and the clean up crew:

1. Language translation 

When General Conference was first translated it was only done in four languages; now it is translated into 92 different languages. According to lds.org there are 800 people, mostly volunteers, involved in translation. Of all the languages, 42 are directly translated during conference.

2. Preparing the rostrum

Setting up the Conference Center also has several preparations. Lds.org says that two to three weeks prior to conference, about 10 people from the Church Physical Facilities Department begin assembling the rostrum where church leaders and speakers sit.

The rostrum is made up of several 10,000-pound (3,732-kg) sections and covers enough area that the Tabernacle on Temple Square could sit on it. According to staging lead Steven Wall, workers use an “air-hockey concept” in which they inflate air bladders along each piece to float them about 1/2 inch (13 mm) off the ground. Workers then glide each piece into place.

3. Decorations

Physically setting up the Conference Center can be challenging, but the surrounding beauty makes the task rewarding. Part of that beauty comes from the floral arrangements. Lds.org says that at least two months before conference they start to pick out and arrange the flowers.

Karalyn Bliss, of Floral Services, said on lds.org, “We tend to do more of a natural-looking, garden-style arrangement. It provides something of interest to the eye with movement and color.”

4. Lighting

To highlight the beautiful floral arrangements, the Conference Center has people in the light booth to control the auditorium’s 6,000 lights, ranging from spotlights to colored lights. The conference utilizes 1,200 light fixtures.

5. Clean up crew

To finish up conference, clean up must take place. According to lds.org, after a session where 21,000 people leave the Conference Center, church custodians have only 30 minutes to clean the auditorium before the next 21,000 enter. Custodial tasks include cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming and clearing away litter. Priesthood holders from local stakes are invited to stay after the priesthood session to help clean.