We are sorry to announce that Night Lights 2020 is canceled. We are very disappointed, as we imagine many of you will be, but this is the best decision for Tower Hill’s community of visitors, staff, and friends.

Night Lights is Tower Hill’s largest annual fundraiser accounting for nearly a fifth of our annual operational budget and welcoming nearly 40,000 visitors all in a month’s time. As our staff worked through various scenarios that limited the number of people public health officials might allow on the property at one time, it became clear that because of the uncertainty ahead, moving forward with the event would pose too great a risk to the organization.

Why make this decision now? Night Lights has grown into a year-round project with planning beginning just weeks after New Year’s. By mid-June, we are purchasing equipment, replacing aging decorations, contracting with arborists to hang lights high in the trees, and devoting many staff hours each week toward preparing for Night Lights to ensure that visitors have a safe and enriching experience. That’s why, before we graduated from the planning stages to the preparing stages, we needed to make a decision on what to do. Should we invest considerable resources at a time when our income has been limited into a large project when we are uncertain if we’ll be allowed to hold it at a level that would meet expectations? Or would those resources be better spent on initiatives that will sustain our nonprofit organization for years to come?

It’s safe to say that this spring has been the most trying period in Tower Hill’s 34-year history. Never have our gates been closed this long to customers. In the days, weeks, and months ahead we’ll need to act boldly at times and cautiously in other times. We are grateful to have leaders in the organization who have in recent years brought Tower Hill to new heights and who are ready to guide the 180-year-old organization through this storm and back to clear skies.

Each of us has been affected by COVID-19 in our personal lives. As a Tower Hill family, we’ve lost shared moments in the daffodil field and among the tulip display, spring rites of passage that many of us New Englanders depend on. Special events, art exhibits, memorial dedications, construction projects, weddings, the simple pleasures such as hearing kids chasing butterflies in the Garden Within Reach have all been delayed. And now we’ll miss Night Lights, our most magical and treasured annual experience. 

But as anyone with a green thumb knows, loss is an important part of the gardening experience. Lightning fells an ancient and beloved tree. Hail shreds your beautiful vegetable garden. An invasive beetle claims thousands of your city’s trees. A thief steals your giant pumpkin just before harvest time. A disease claims your heirloom orchard. Nature happens. You endure it. You learn from it. You become resilient. And you appreciate the beauty that follows a bit more. 

So we hope that while this news is sure to bring disappointment we know we can count on you to stand by your garden and to trust that it’s in good hands. We hope that you continue to support us in our goal to connect as many people to plants as possible. Let’s keep growing together.