Dec. 11, 2014
By: Katie Egan


Transforming the Naples Botanical Garden into a magical world of colors, sparkling lights and holiday cheer requires a lot to dazzle.

There are 65,000 traditional holiday lights, more than 150 theatrical LED lights, hundreds of ornaments and 45,000 color-changing strips.

The garden will become a winter wonderland (minus snow and ice) for the fifth annual Night Lights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 17-23, Dec. 26-30 and Jan. 2-4.

Communications coordinator Renée Waller said the event brought in 10,000 people last year.

“Our purpose is always to just keep growing year by year,” Waller said. “It’s not so much hitting a number as much as celebrating it with as many people as possible and continuing to show people what an incredible holiday event this is.”

For adult members, tickets are $9; children who are members, $4; nonmember adults, $17; and children who are not members, $7. The garden is at 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples.

Free admission nights for members are Dec. 17, 18 and Jan. 4. A membership card and photo ID are required.

“It’s just to give back to our members to make sure they know that we appreciate them so much,” Waller said.

Garden volunteer and member Rick Hart believes Night Lights is worth the time.

“You can’t miss it. It’s gorgeous at night,” he said. “No one gets to see the garden at night except during Night Lights.

The popular Burle Marx mosaic in the Brazilian garden will be illuminated and guests will see a river of grass and wildflower meadow for the first time.

There will also be music, games and crafts almost every night. For a complete list of events, go to The garden will be lit up with “every color from the color wheel,” said Rodger Church from Eventz Inc., an event management and planning company in south Lee County.

This is his fourth year working on Night Lights.

“It’s a little different. But my creative end really likes it,” he said. “They give me a lot of leeway.”

The new Scott Florida Garden will wow garden goers with green and white hues. The Lea Asian Garden will opt for a red and white theme, and the Kapnick Brazilian and Kapnick Caribbean gardens will feature all colors from the color spectrum.

An LED light has red, green, blue and amber bulbs that cycle through 16 million times, Church said, then added, “in theory anyway.”

Eventz Inc. begins setting up for Night Lights right after Thanksgiving.

The river of grass will cycle through different shades of green and feature “shooting” white lights. There will be about 40 theatrical lights, that Church says he can control individually to make the white lights chase the green lights. “To give it some animation,” he said.

The popular color changing glow cubes will make a comeback.

“They’re big and sturdy and kids were just playing around last year,” Waller said. “People were just enjoying the ambiance and that whole festive feeling in the air.”

Waller cannot wait for Neapolitans to see the garden.

“As soon as you walk into the garden, you’re hit in the face with all these beautiful lights,” she said. “I end up working every night and I don’t get bored of it. And I get bored easily.”

Hart volunteered for six or seven nights last year and says he loves seeing the expressions on kids’ faces. “They’re in awe with all the lights. There’s music and things happening. It’s just a neat party.”

For the first time, guests will be able to buy their tickets online. “We get requests for it every year,” Waller said, sounding excited.

Online tickets can be purchased at Those coming to see “Frozen” Dec. 19 and 20 should purchase tickets for 6 p.m. because the popular Disney movie starts promptly at 6:30 p.m., Waller said, adding: “This will help us better prepare for the crowds and parking.”

Hart compared the experience to Christmas morning.

“There were a couple places I would be standing so I would be the first and last person they see,” he said. “It was almost like when they walked in, it was Christmas Eve and as they were walking out, it was Christmas Day and they opened all of their presents.

“The joy people have spreads through the whole garden. I don’t think I saw anyone upset or anything. Everyone is so cheerful.”

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