It was a very happy holiday season for Brookgreen Gardens thanks to record crowds for the annual “Nights of a Thousand Candles” event and the success of a New Year’s Eve event.
The seven “Nights” attracted about 32,400 visitors this year, an increase of more than 400 people from last year’s record crowd, according to Bob Jewell, Brookgreen’s president and CEO.
“The feedback had just been tremendous,” Jewell said. “It was a delightful holiday event for everyone who attended.”
There were more light displays this year, and as the transition to LED lights continues, visitors noticed even brighter colors. Several very large live oaks were wrapped with lights for the first time, adding to the spectacle.
“The garden has never looked any better,” Jewell said.
Feedback showed that “Nights” attracts visitors from across the country.
“I think it’s gained a lot of recognition, not only locally but regionally and up and down the coast,” Jewell said.
One of the keys to “Nights” success was the volunteers, Jewell said. Nearly 50 people worked the 2012 event.
“We couldn’t do this without our volunteers,” Jewell said.
With attendance setting records every year, Brookgreen is expanding “Nights of a Thousand Candles” to nine days in 2013. All three weekends will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Jewell hopes the extra days will “spread the crowd out a little bit.”
After wrapping up the “Nights” event, Brookgreen welcomed 1,200 people on New Year’s Eve. For three hours ticket holders strolled through the gardens enjoying many of the “Nights” decorations.
“We wanted to keep it at a small, more manageable number,” Jewell said.
The time of the event, 6 to 9 p.m., was chosen so people could still get to New Year’s Eve parties or head home for a quiet evening, Jewell said.
Of the 1,200 people who attended, 55 percent were Brookgreen members, and 45 percent were non-members.
With the holidays over, Brookgreen returns to its normal schedule of events.
Some of the upcoming highlights include: “Dirt ‘N Detail” on Jan. 8; a cooking demo on Jan. 9 and Jan. 23; “Down By the Riverside and Other Spirituals” on Jan. 16 and Jan. 23; “FrogWatch Listening Training” on Jan. 24; and “Faces of Clay, Echoes of Africa” on Jan. 26.
For more information go to brookgreen.org.
By Chris Sokoloski
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