Tradition of the huge light display in St. John’s

Tradition of the huge light display in St. John’s

The Merry and Bright Light Festival has been lighting up the Botanic Gardens in St. John’s, New Delhi for seven years, and it’s still growing.

The last time they checked, there were about 125,000 LEDs in use in the display – but that was several years ago, and counting them all isn’t exactly an easy task.

“If we asked the staff who are hanging these things to count them for us, or measure the height, they would get very upset with us,” Deborah Coombs, a marketing consultant at the Memorial University Botanical Garden, told CTV National News.

“It’s higher than we can count.”

Thousands and thousands of lights are strung in a kilometer-long ring for the park’s annual Merry and Bright Festival.

The festival is currently in its seventh edition, and continues to expand – this year, it runs for 22 nights.

Last year, it witnessed about 27 thousand visitors.

“It’s just a joyful event, and when people come, they come in droves,” Coombs said.

It has become a favorite destination during the holiday season in St. John’s – to bring your family, bring a date or ask a question.

“Last year we had six or seven wedding shows, which is very exciting,” Kim Shipp, director of the Botanical Garden, told CTV National News. “Some of them are calling to tell us, while others are hearing cheers and applause from afar.”

It’s a romantic place – especially the heart-shaped lighting installation that appears about halfway through.

Preparing for this festival is almost a year-round affair for the employees. It wasn’t long after thousands of lights were dismantled and put into storage that the planning began again.

“Maybe in June or July, we’ll start having our meetings,” Coombs said. “We sit down with a garden map. We say what went well last year, what do we want to do this year?”

They also compared their festival to other garden light displays around the world.

“This seems to be the trend…and there are some beautiful lights all over the world.”

Between the hot chocolate and some live music, the festival was a huge success. It is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Botanical Garden, and helps fund much of the educational work performed by staff throughout the year.

Hobbs said staff would like to increase the size of the display — and perhaps use more LED lights to make it taller — to help people spend more time outside.

“It’s a really great evening walk with your family, with your loved ones, with your best friend, to get out and get some exercise and enjoy the season,” she said. “Because we have winter in Newfoundland and we have to learn to live with it and love it.”

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