By Natalie Jones

Hundreds of families came out to kick off their holiday season with a spectacular light display at Homestead Gardens’ 24th Annual Grand Illumination Nov. 18.

Homestead Gardens, located in Davidsonville, Maryland, is a garden center featuring flowers, trees, landscaping design and service, outdoor lighting and garden accessories. Open year-round, the store holds a variety of seasonal events.

The Grand Illumination is an all ages event, featuring food trucks, local carolers, a train set up in the back of the store and holiday store specials, according to Meghan McKelvey, the customer service department head for Homestead Gardens.

“A lot more adults do come because it’s basically a tradition for them,” she said. “They come every year, but then they start to bring their kids because it’s a feel-good place.”

Homestead Gardens also appeals to four-legged customers during the season. Many attendees brought their dogs along for the illumination as the store is dog-friendly and holds holiday events specific for dog owners.

Sonya Muhly attended the Grand Illumination for the first time with River her 3-year-old Dalmatian in tow. Muhly said she wanted to take advantage of Homestead Gardens’ dog-friendly policy to work on socializing skills with her dog,

“Everyone’s attracted to her and wants to pet her, so we’re getting a lot of good training in,” she said.

Before the illumination, Chris Leveille, the general manager for Homestead Gardens, thanked the grounds team for working for six weeks to string up all of the lights for the illumination.

“Over 3,000 strands of lights are going to be turned on all at one time,” he said. “That’s about 60,000 linear feet of lights, equivalent to over 200,000 individual bulbs.”

Leveille also introduced the person who would flip the switch for the illumination: Brady Ebersberger, 5, of Arnold, Maryland. Ebersberger wrote a short essay about his favorite Christmas memory and won Homestead Gardens’ essay writing contest, which earned him the honor of flipping the switch.

“My favorite Christmas memory is driving around with my mommy and daddy and baby brother Evan looking at all the bright Christmas lights,” said Ebersberger’s mother, reading the essay for her son. “We like to pick our favorite and go up and knock on their door to tell the people who live there that they have the best lights ever.”

After a countdown from 10, Ebersberger flipped the switch, illuminating the property and drawing applause from the crowd. Led by Leveille, the crowd began singing “Joy to the World” and then “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to greet Santa Claus as he arrived.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.

Natalie Jones if a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at nmjones@terpmail.umd.edu. 

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