LARGO - More than 76,000 visitors enjoyed the 2013 Holiday Lights in the Gardens at the Florida Botanical Gardens from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1. Visitors hailed from the Tampa Bay area, Florida and the United States, as well as Canada, Sweden, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and Australia.
The event raised $90,000 to go directly into garden projects and efforts.
The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation sponsors the annual event to provide a family friendly, inexpensive community gathering to celebrate the holidays while highlighting the gardens for residents and visitors. With more than 750,000 twinkling LED lights - the largest display to date - illuminating 30 acres of plantings, pathways and waterways, the Holiday Lights in the Gardens event has become a tradition.
“We are thrilled with the turn out again this year,” said Terry Berube, Foundation president. “The holiday event has grown by leaps and bounds into one that - we proudly say - is world class. The number of visitors we had from so many other countries - it’s heartwarming to say the least and tells us we’re doing our job of growing the gardens into not only a destination, but also a valuable and sustainable community resource.”
Attendance has been steadily growing over the year with more than 60,000 visiting the displays during the event’s 11th anniversary in 2011 – an increase of nearly 18,000 from 2010. In 2012, 77,000 enjoyed the display.
The Foundation continues to be grateful for the 486 volunteers who not only helped the foundation manage the event, but also provided the Holiday Lights with entertainment each night, according to a press release.
An additional purpose of the Holiday Lights in the Gardens is to raise funds to support the Florida Botanical Gardens. The Foundation plans to develop and support an array of projects, including expansion and renovation of the west gardens surrounding the Pinellas County Extension building, enhancement and expansion of the children's trail, installation of boardwalks through the wetlands, development of a GIS system to identify and record plants and memorials, artistic additions to the gardens and another magical Holiday Lights in the Gardens event next year.
For information on how to become a Foundation member, volunteer or a 2014 sponsor, call the Foundation office at 582-2117 or visit Flbgfoundation.org.
The Florida Botanical Gardens is located at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo, with an alternate entrance at 12211 Walsingham Road. The gardens are open from 7 a.m. until dusk every day. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.flbg.org or call 582-2100.