LARGO — The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation says this season's Holiday Lights in the Gardens brought in $68,878.62 through donations collected at the gate. That's an increase of $11,000 over last season.
The money will be used to put on a 2011 Holiday Lights event, as well as buy plants for the Botanical Gardens throughout the year, said Chuck Scaffidi, chairman of the foundation.
Since 2008, the foundation has operated the program with no financial assistance from Pinellas County.
"The first year, we lost money because we didn't know the right formula, but now we seem to know what we are doing,'' said Scaffidi, a retired aerospace engineer for NASA who has been involved with the Botanical Gardens for 10 years.
When Terry Berube, membership chairwoman for the foundation, conjures up her favorite memory of the 2010 program, she remembers the little girls who would come in with long dresses and dance through McCay Creek Plaza. "I'll never forget watching all the children dance around the tree,'' she said.
For most of the 38 nights of the event, Berube volunteered, greeting people at the entry and helping usher visitors. In all, 42,158 attended by the time the display closed Jan. 2.
"It's hardly been a week, and I already miss it," she said. "I loved it when people would come up to us and tell us how amazing it was. And I'm already thinking of what we can do new for the next one.''