Modern Fun at Glow at the Gardens

The Glow Must Go On

Masks, skeletons, and spooks fill this year’s event.
Photo: Taelar Pollmann • The Sentry

Glow at the Gardens is a beloved event that merges the magic of holiday lights with the spooky season.  In past years, the Gardens would go above and beyond like they do with every event, but due to the global pandemic the event looks different this year.  There was no record number of pumpkins and a strange energy buzzed in the air.  Events are no longer a normal activity in the era of COVID-19.  The act of being outside and enjoying oneself feels so foreign now.  Over the last eight months, the sight of people gathered in groups faded into a memory of the “before time.”  

The Denver Botanic Gardens did an amazing job despite all the limitations faced in hosting a social and public event in the society of 2020.  They required all attendees to wear a mask at all times and to enjoy the walking trail at a pace that kept family groups at a safe distance from each other.  To help with this near-Sisyphean task, the Gardens had attendants stationed throughout the park to make sure people kept their distance and did not allow anyone to become clustered.  It did feel like a very safe and well-planned evening of fun for a family that young kids could enjoy, but for the older crowd it was depressing to see how much had to be scaled back to make it safe.

 There were more sections roped off and closed or not decorated at all than there were giving off the spooky glow of orange and purple lights.  The actors placed throughout the trail were the highlight of the evening; from stone garden statues reminiscent of Doctor Who to zombies wandering around a makeshift cemetery to the Headless Horseman himself, it was a small jolt of theatre in a world with a bleak future for in-person entertainment.  Even the live music was scaled back, yet it was still a delight to hear the spooky sounds of the accordion in person while a puppeteer made an oversized skeleton dance.

Due to the social distancing guidelines, it was impossible to linger at any of the visual exhibits without hindering other patrons’ views or causing a traffic jam, so everyone had to keep a slow but steady pace, which was difficult for families with smaller children.  Despite this, everyone managed to stay within the guidelines, and without stopping at the small café for a refreshment it took half an hour to walk from the entrance of the gardens to the exit.  In comparison, the 2019 season of Blossoms of Light took at least an hour to walk through and enjoy every part. 

Here is to enjoying what can be done in the moment and still hoping to evolve into an even better world post-COVID.  This year threw some massive unforeseen challenges at the world, and it has been more heartwarming than heartbreaking to see how everyone is adapting and growing through the challenges instead of snuffing out the glow of the season.

This is a selection from the Oct. 28 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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