BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– A KELOLAND garden has transformed into a magical holiday destination.

Thousands of lights in multiple displays can be found throughout the McCrory Gardens. What started off as just 11 decorated Christmas trees has now grown into a large light show.

A 24-foot tall Christmas tree is just the beginning of the holiday light display covering the grounds of McCrory Gardens. It’s a tradition that has been taking place at the garden for the past eight years.

“We’ve just been growing and growing every year since and adding up to about probably a quarter million lights now,” said Chris Schlenker, horticulture and grounds manager.

As you go along the trail, you’ll find some classic displays, like Candy Land but as you continue on, you’ll find two completely new displays as well as some returning additions to the garden.

“Some of the newer things that we’ve added this year is some of our wow factors, at our entrance we have a 24 foot poll tree, then we have Adriene’s Field of Lights and our gingerbread house which are further in so those are synchronized light displays to music that are choreographed and really put you in the Christmas spirit,” said Schlenker.

“We want people to come back every year and enjoy the lights but also see some more and keep it glowing and growing,” said Sydney Trio, education coordinator and horticulturist.

Transforming the garden is not an easy process.

“It takes us about seven weeks, a little over 800 hours over the course of those seven weeks to put everything up so that’s unpacking it, repairing it, putting it up, all the steps along the way,” said Schlenker.

  • Thousands of lights at McCrory Gardens
  • Garden Glow in Brookings
  • McCrory Gardens decorated for holidays
  • Part of the light display at McCrory Gardens
  • Garden glow
  • Garden Glow sign at holiday light display
  • McCrory Garden light display

But all the work pays off when people get to come and enjoy the display.

“Creating the tradition with the families is probably the most important thing, you know, getting people outside too you know there is Christmas displays too that you can drive through but there’s not too many that get you outside and so when we’ve got weather like this, you can grab a hot chocolate and you are able to enjoy and listen to the kids laugh and everybody come back year after year,” said Schlenker.

This year, they added an igloo to the garden that people can rent to enjoy with their families and see the lights from the center of the garden. You can see the display for yourself almost every evening now until January 6th from 5 to 9 p.m.