ASTRA helps illuminate annual Garden of Lights


Kate Donohoe

Family enjoys Garden of Lights December 22, 2021

Kate Donohoe, News Reporter

Montrose High School’s ASTRA club helped to decorate for the annual Garden of Lights, hosted by the Montrose Botanic Gardens, in the weeks leading up to the event. The event was then open to the public December 17th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 26th, and 27th.

The Garden of Lights is an annual event put together by and benefiting the Montrose Botanic Gardens, a non-profit organization with all funding gained through memberships, donations, grants, and fundraisers. In preparation, volunteers worked every Wednesday and Saturday, beginning the day after Halloween, for 4 or 5 hours to help hang lights and prepare for the event.

“There is so much preparation for the Garden of Lights,” Lorraine Shide, Garden of Lights Coordinator for the Montrose Botanic Gardens, said. “[We have] garden volunteers and help from Montrose High School classes such as Project Unify and organizations like ASTRA and LULAC as well as Boy Scout Troop 491.”

ASTRA members made it to many of the Saturday decorating time slots as a part of their mission to serve the community.

“Quite a bit of Astra students participated in decorating the Garden of lights and we have done that for the last few years,” ASTRA sponsor Kathlyne Gaber said.

Volunteer work related to the Montrose Botanic Gardens is especially important to ASTRA, as they have a particular connection to the gardens and their events.

“Two of our Altrusa sponsors Lorraine Shide and Molly Shaver both work on the Botanic Garden board, so Garden of Lights is usually one of the items our Astra students want to volunteer for,” Gaber said.

ASTRA members were tasked with stringing lights in trees, helping to set up a Frozen display for kids, wrapping lights around metal figures, and hanging curtain lights over rocks to create a snow-like design.

“First, we had to make sure all of the lights were working and plan out how we wanted things to go,” ASTRA Social Director Shandra Findley said. “Then, we had to work together to be able to hang up the lights and make everything look good.”

Along with MHS’s own clubs, many members of the community joined in to help make the Garden of Lights a success.

“The Montrose Community is so supportive of the event. Local horse owners donate their time and expertise for the lit horse drawn wagon rides, and many individuals, organizations and businesses support the event with financial support as well as in-kind contributions,” Shide said.

The work done by volunteers for the 2021 Garden of Lights resulted in a turn out of over 4,000 visitors and another successful fundraiser for the botanic gardens.

“If you ever get the opportunity, I would definitely recommend helping decorate the Garden of Lights because it’s a great experience,” Findley said.