Dazzling Christmas lights at the Green bay Botanical Garden
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 10:10 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Action 2 News offers a nightly series through December 25. We’re calling it “Countdown to Christmas,” and each night on Action 2 News at 10 our reporters will share a story of inspiration and holiday spirit. Kristyn Allen strolls through a shining holiday garden and shows us how it’s grown into what it is today.

Strolling through the Green Bay Botanical Garden to see thousands of dazzling lights is a holiday tradition for many people.

It started as just a small display back in 1997.

“Just kind of winging it at the time,” Dave Barkow, the facilities and maintenance coordinator.

Now the WPS Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, 2600 Larsen Rd., features 350,000 lights in dozens of displays.

“Technology has just skyrocketed,” Barkow remarks. ”Much different than it is nowadays. At that time, there was no such thing as LED lights for holiday lighting. So we used a lot of incandescents. It was a challenge to keep everything going.”

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WPS Garden of Lights display at Green Bay Botanical Gardens (WBAY photo)
WPS Garden of Lights display at Green Bay Botanical Gardens (WBAY photo)(WBAY)

All of the displays have been changed over to LEDs but some of them frameworks are originals.

“A lot of our flower displays that you see, some of our poinsettia, holly, even our butterflies, that’s all part of the original back in 1997.”

Each year a new display is added.

“I try to do something that no one has ever seen before. That’s one of the biggest compliments I can get is ‘I’ve never seen that before!’” said Barkow.

This year it’s a display called Walking on a Dream. As you step across a floor of raised discs, each disc changes colors.

“I went to a trade show, a holiday Christmas light trade show, believe it or not, it’s huge. So that’s where I saw it. I loved it. I said we gotta have this.”

The excitement of what’s new plus the nostalgia of the old favorites make the Garden of Lights a tradition for families.

“I think for people it’s creating memories. That’s what we’re really all about. People come out here and create a memory and come back year after year.”

WPS Garden of Lights at Green Bay Botanical Gardens (WBAY photo)
WPS Garden of Lights at Green Bay Botanical Gardens (WBAY photo)(WBAY)