Missing Tradition in this Modern World
How many times have you said, “we used to…”? It might be “we used to bike to school,” “go on picnics,” or “collect leaves in the fall.” Halloween is especially ripe for tradition with rich stories of how we used to be outside and how the holiday used to be about costumes and evening fun and less about shopping mall candy grabs or terrifying thrill experiences. Red Butte Garden has hosted a Halloween tradition since 1998 called Garden After Dark. Every year a new theme related to the Garden and the Halloween season is
selected, resulting in craft and activity stations that sneak a little education into the event and provide a fresh experience for returning guests. The event takes place throughout the Garden, with themed craft and entertainment stations both indoors and outdoors.
Each night 60 staff and volunteers in costumes help guests have an amazing experience over the weekends leading up to Halloween. Perhaps you’ll find family traditions among the fire barrels, craft stations, performers, or Garden light and décor displays. We’ve found the things
people enjoy the most are traditional and include: having a place to celebrate Halloween where their children are safe, all ages wearing costumers, no candy, nothing scary and experiences that are sneakily educational.
Who organizes the event each year?
Since 2010 it’s been LaraLee Smith. Smith is the Family & Community Programs Manager at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has worked with various nonprofits coordinating summer camps, children’s classes, a middle school science outreach
program, and classroom based environmental education programming. Smith holds an M.P.A. with a concentration in nonprofit management as well as a B.A. in Environmental Studies, both from The University of Utah.
Her ideas have improved the event while highlighting plant and environmental themes in traditional Halloween motifs. Past themes include Light
Up The Night, which highlighted plants and animals that are active or glow in the evening. Guests had the opportunity to create their own owl masks while discussing how owls see at night and learn about bioluminescent mushroom while creating their own glowing mushroom to take home.
The theme of Once Upon a Fairytale focused on the plants in fairytales, and guests left with a set of magic beans after visiting Jack and the Beanstalk as well as a glowing magic wand after visiting Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Plants often play a role in our traditions. Pumpkins are an
obvious one for Halloween. Many traditions revolve around the season and seasonal foods, such as watermelon and fresh herbs in summer and squash at Thanksgiving. How about cranberries, bay leaves, and pine boughs as plants used in winter? But, we are talking about Halloween.
After Dark is celebrating Haunted Holidays Around The World.
Visit the Garden to travel the globe! In the United States we celebrate ghosts and spirits at Halloween, but similar traditions exist in other cultures throughout the year. Discover nature’s ties to holidays and celebrations such as Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos and the Hungry Ghost Festival of China and visit the Garden’s pond aglow with lanterns in celebration of Japan’s Obon Festival. 2016 Garden After Dark dates for 2016 are October 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29.
Bryn is the Communications Director for Red Butte Garden and has a long history of nonprofit advertising, PR, marketing and planning
facilitation. Much of her career was with AT&T Wireless managing regional
advertising and national brand and sports marketing. She has been with Red
Butte Garden for seven years where good weather has been responsible for
exceptional camp, class, and concert attendance