TEP is adding twinkle to a new area of the Tucson Botanical Gardens for nighttime holiday events to open up space for safer, physically distant pathways.

This year, the gardens are hosting Wanderland: A Holiday Garden Stroll on Thursdays through Sundays from Dec. 3 through Jan. 3. To manage the number of attendants, timed ticket are being sold for Wanderland, which is open on five weekends, instead of the usual two.

With a TEP donation, the venue for the first time is extending lighting to the normally dark cactus and succulent garden area to help spread out attendance.

Because of the pandemic, the gardens have been operating on limited income, as rentals, weddings, classes and bus tours have been canceled for safety reasons.

Already this year, TEP provided funding for a grant to support the gardens through the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, part of TEP’s $500,000 donation to the COVID-19 Community Support Fund.

“We can’t thank TEP enough for their generous operational support grant during COVID,” said Michelle Conklin, the Gardens Executive Director. “Helping to ensure the care of our plant collection guarantees that the gardens will be here for our community for years to come.”

TEP has long supported the gardens’ holiday events, previously called Luminaria Nights. Last year, TEP donated $10,000 for LED lights to go inside many of the luminarias – Mexican lanterns that usually have candles in weighted paper bags.

To keep with tradition, some of the candlelit luminarias remain in some areas of the grounds. TEP volunteers have frequently helped to light the candles, one of the many ways our volunteers assist in the community during the holiday season.

“The gardens have done a great job keeping the holiday spirit alive while still ensuring the safety of their guests is a top priority,” said Wendy Erica Werden, Manager of Community Investment. “We appreciate our long-standing partnership with them as well as the legacy of the luminaria tradition with a modern upgrade so more people can enjoy these special places.”

For more information and to buy tickets, go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens website.

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