A new kind of sparkle is warming Luminaria Nights at the Tucson Botanical Gardens this holiday season.

Tucson Electric Power stepped in to help by providing funds for LED lights to illuminate thousands of the luminarias that grace the grounds during the December nighttime events.

During the event, garden staff and volunteers decorate pathways with luminarias – traditional Mexican lanterns that usually have candles in weighted paper bags.

Until this year, the gardens used candles in the 3,500 luminarias, relying on hundreds of volunteers to keep them lit. Staff members kept a wary eye out for storm clouds as well as safety concerns of the flames.

“We love the traditional charm of this event and we’re trying to evolve the gardens to a process that is more efficient and provides a more consistent guest experience,” said Rob Elias, the gardens’ Director of Marketing and Communications.We felt this was a great investment from the guest experience perspective and certainly saved staff members and volunteer time, which allowed them to focus on other areas of the gardens.”

TEP is a sponsor of Luminaria Nights, which run through Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

When the gardens decided to switch, TEP donated $10,000 to pay for LED lights. TEP’s Geovanna Moreno, Commercial Account Manager, visited the gardens to make sure electricity was sufficient and safe for the installation.

“We’re happy to help the gardens keep a new, safer version of luminarias alive for this event,” said Wendy Erica Werden, Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy.

A few traditional candle luminarias remain near the Porter House area, lit by volunteers, including some from TEP.

“This makes complete sense because it’s called Luminaria Nights Powered by Tucson Electric Power,” Elias said. “We’re thrilled to have this partnership.”

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