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Safety Harbor artists put recycling in whole new light

SAFETY HARBOR

When Santa Claus comes to town, there's one place he can't miss while soaring through the starry night.

And, holiday light lovers, neither should you.

Artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda have emblazoned their Safety Harbor home with a mind-blowing fantasy garden display that, with the help of lasers and lights, will shine a spotlight on the art of recycling.

Behold Holidazzle.

Here, thousands of recycled plastic bottles have gone under the knife and found new life as flamboyant florals. Cascading compact discs reflect light that dances throughout the garden like thousands of fairies. Aluminum cans, braided in the shape of snowflakes, are adorned so that no two are the same.

"This is just beautiful," said Barbara Nolan, 75, who winters in Palm Harbor. "Who would think plastic bottles could look so good?"

Barbara Carrier, 62, a member of the Dunedin Windlasses, a sailing group volunteering to help with the installation Wednesday, said she hoped the garden would inspire people.

"Instead of going to Big Lots and buying all our decorations, we can repurpose what we have," she said. "Sometimes we just need a mentor to show us how."

The installation is in full bloom and is lit from dusk to 9 p.m. every night through Dec. 30 at 1206 Third St. N. in Safety Harbor.

A walk through the glistening garden is free, but donations will be accepted to help fund the couple's most recent and ambitious undertaking, the future nonprofit Safety Harbor Art and Music Center (SHAMc) at 706 Second St. N.

Walls containing recycled glass, which simulate the look of the center and may actually be used when the center is built, were being constructed on the property Wednesday.

The massive effort for Holidazzle began three months ago, right after the couple won a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to help build SHAMc. The fact that they had amassed "God knows how many" plastic soda bottles (in a power vote-getting strategy) spurred the recycling idea.

It took a village — scouts, nurses, school children, fellow artists, family, friends, church and other community groups — to pull off the couple's seventh holiday installation.

"It's by the community and for the community," Kiaralinda said.

When they put out a call for volunteers and materials on Facebook, the community responded with everything from used ornaments and outdoor lights to sheet metal and blue bubble wrap used for pool covers. (The repurposed blue bubble wrap can be seen in one of the three walk-through rooms on display.)

"This whole thing was done at almost no cost," said Ramquist, "just a ton of time."

"Dazzlers," volunteers wearing hats made from recycled water bottles, will be on the property every night to sell a special group of "flowers" that go for $10 each or three for $25. The proceeds help fund SHAMc.

Visitors can also purchase holographic wristbands and write their name on them. They will be linked to form an interactive chain that will run throughout the property.

Think those giant chandeliers that hang near the entrance might be perfect for a garden wedding?

Make an offer on any of the recycled art, Ramquist said.

"If somebody wants them, we'll recycle them a second time."

Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com

. If you go

Holidazzle

What: A lighted holiday garden installation created from recycled items

Where: 1206 Third St. N in Safety Harbor

When: Every night through Dec. 30 from dusk until 9 p.m.

Admission: Free. Proceeds from donations and the sale of items will benefit the future Safety Harbor Art and Music Center.

Info: (727) 725-4018

Safety Harbor artists put recycling in whole new light 12/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011 9:13pm]
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