The night was dark as guests filed around the 85-foot fir tree, waiting for the sparkling lights to finally fill the sky during the annual Night of A Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens Thursday night.
And at 5:45 p.m. they weren’t disappointed.
“This is beautiful,” Dana Garrett, from Sanford, N.C., said. “This is the first time that we’ve been here for the Christmas lighting and it exceeds expectations. It’s wonderful. I would tell all my friends about it too.”
For nearly 100 volunteers and even more staff, preparing for the first night meant setting up over 5,500 candles, which are hand-lit each night, and hanging over 100,000 lights.
This year, staff worked to set up nearly 1,680 wine bottles as part of a display that mimicked a flower bed, Jon McGann, Night’s of A Thousand Candles exhibit supervisor, said.
“We start right after Labor Day, starting to put the lights up,” McGann said. We have lifts, lots of ladders, we get help from all throughout the company.”
And for Joan Wood, who has been volunteering at the event for 14 years, the work is worth it.
“It’s like magic,” Wood said. “This is so gorgeous. It’s just seeing the joy on people’s faces and we’ve had so many engagements here. Every night someone gets engaged.”
The event runs from Dec. 1-2, 7-9 and 14-17, beginning at 3 p.m. each day.
For members tickets cost $15 for adult and $10 for kids. General public tickets cost $20 for adults and $12 for kids.