Community Foundation and Selby Gardens bring underserved families together for Lights in Bloom®

More than 1,300 attendees enjoy light show and various other holiday activities

This is one scene from the Family Togetherness event. Photo courtesy Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

More than 1,300 local children, families, teachers and school staff members recently enjoyed complimentary access to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Lights in Bloom® holiday light show, “thanks to a partnership between Selby Gardens and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Gardens has announced.

Through the Family Togetherness program, which the Community Foundation funds, Selby Gardens offered the evening event for children — and their families — from Title 1 schools, the Sarasota Housing Authority, Girls Inc., the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties, the Margwine Organization, Unidos Now, the Early Learning Coalition, and “others who otherwise might not have been able to see the award-winning light show,” a news release explained. “This marked the sixth year that families experienced this exclusive opportunity to attend Lights in Bloom® through the Community Foundation’s sponsorship,” the release added.

“The remarkable lights, holiday spirit, and natural marvels on display during Lights in Bloom plant seeds of imagination, wonder, and joy,” said Kirsten Russell, vice president of community impact at the Community Foundation, in the release. “That’s a reason we’re so proud to partner with Selby Gardens each year, and so glad to help ensure that all of our community’s families can behold this magical moment.”

In addition to the light show created throughout Selby Gardens’ 15-acre downtown Sarasota campus, the release noted, guests enjoyed complimentary food, holiday treats, and activities such as face painting and balloon art. “Families also had a holiday photo opportunity, and Santa was on hand to sit for photos and hear children’s wishes,” the release added.

“The happiness this program brings to children and their families is unparalleled,” said Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens, in the release. “It is a highlight of our holiday season.”

The dedicated evening at Lights in Bloom® “is part of a larger, multiyear partnership that includes additional Family Togetherness programming and innovative new educational opportunities at Selby Gardens,” the release explained. “Local families will have access to more special events at the Gardens in the spring and summer.”