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Crowds of young Mormons may end up sleeping overnight on the sidewalk in front of the LDS Conference Center on Friday to get a coveted free ticket to former church President Gordon B. Hinckley's funeral.
The passes will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to those standing in line at the north gate of Temple Square at 9 a.m. on Saturday, spokesman Scott Trotter said. The center holds about 21,000 people.
For many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this will be the first time they witness a funeral for a church president, a historic occasion for them. Though it will be broadcast live on Utah television stations, many will want to experience it in person - even waiting in a blizzard to do so.
Hinckley, after all, has been called the first "rock star" Mormon prophet for having appeared before tens of thousands of Mormon youths - from Brazil to Nigeria to Radio City Music Hall - in entertainment-oriented stadium events on the eve of temple dedications in those locations. Waiting in an all-night ticket line is a time-honored rock concert tradition.
Overflow seating will be available in the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall on Temple Square, the Conference Center Little Theater and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, where there will be live video feeds from the funeral. Passes are required for these venues as well and will be distributed when Conference Center seating is full. Officials have not yet decided whether to broadcast the funeral via satellite to LDS chapels in Utah but it will be streamed live online at www.lds.org.
Meanwhile, representatives of other faiths, national and state dignitaries and political leaders will get in without tickets at designated doors. President Bush has picked Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to represent the White House at the funeral. And LDS politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Utah Republican Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch will be there. So will Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
On Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., church officials expect thousands of Latter-day Saints and others to attend a viewing of Hinckley's body. Due to a forecast snowstorm, the viewing has been moved to the Conference Center from the Church Administration Building so that attendees can wait in line indoors.
Immediately after the funeral, which begins at 11 a.m. and is expected to last about 90 minutes, Hinckley will be interred at Salt Lake City Cemetery next to his wife, Marjorie, who died in 2004. The burial is not open to the public.
All of these details were hammered out this week by Hinckley's family and the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
With Hinckley's death on Sunday, the church's governing First Presidency was dissolved. Thomas S. Monson, who was Hinckley's first counselor in the presidency and is the longest-serving apostle, will likely be named the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometime next week.
Until then, the Quorum is running the show, with Monson at the top. In addition to planning the funeral, there is much to do.
Before being named president, Monson will choose two counselors. He likely will retain Henry B. Eyring, second counselor under Hinckley, and then choose another man from among the current apostles. That will leave a vacancy in the Quorum, which he may or may not fill immediately. The leaders also must complete plans to dedicate the Rexburg, Idaho, temple. The ceremony was originally scheduled for Feb. 3 but has been moved to Feb. 10 to accommodate the funeral and announcement of the new president.
* LDS faithful and others can view Gordon B. Hinckley's body Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the LDS Conference Center, 60 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.
* Hinckley's funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Conference Center. Tickets are required and can be obtained starting at 9 a.m. at the north gate of Temple Square, 50 W. North Temple. Overflow seating will be available at Temple Square in the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall, in the Conference Center Little Theater and in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, 15 E. South Temple.
* The funeral will be broadcast on KSL, KUTV, KTVX and KBYU TV, as well as KSL radio. It will be streamed live via the Web at www.lds.org.
* The following parking lots will be available for both the public viewing and the funeral:
Triad Center Garage, 50 N. 400 West;
Eagle Gate Terrace, 145 E. Social Hall Ave.;
Regent Street, 65 E. 200 South;
EnergySolutions Arena, 70 N. 300 West.
* The church encourages attendees not to park in front of homes in downtown residential areas. Cars parked on neighborhood streets may be ticketed or towed at owner's expense. No parking will be available in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building parking plaza, Church Office Building or Conference Center.
Source: LDS Church