Newest Galaxy of Lights display honors Huntsville man known for iconic Christmas decorations


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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville Botanical Garden's Galaxy of Lights has been bringing joy to people's holiday season for over 20 years. Galaxy of Lights started in 1996 with 25 scenes and has now grown to have almost 200 scenes.

This year a new scene, honoring a Huntsville man known for his iconic Christmas decorations, can be found about halfway through the trail.

"What's really special this year is we have a new display that's dedicated to Dr. Higginbotham. Many of you who are from Huntsville might know of the tradition of visiting his house, which he would decorate every year," said Katherine MacGilvray, Huntsville Botanical Garden Marketing Manager. "He had live reindeer in his yard. It was a big event, and he would open his home up to people during the holiday season. He just had a really big heart."

For over 30 years, Dr. Higginbotham devoted his time to sharing the holiday spirit with the community. He was known for the amazing light show he would create at his home on Horseshoe Trail.

Dr. Higginbotham passed away in March, and his colleagues at SportsMED paid tribute to his big heart this holiday season.

MacGilvray said Higginbotham's friends, family, and colleagues reached out to the Galaxy of Lights crew and asked if they would be willing to build a display in his honor.

This year the Huntsville Botanical Garden unveiled the Higgenbotham house, also known as the Christmas Eve House.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden hopes people in the community will be pleased to see Dr. Higginbotham's tradition become part of the Galaxy of Lights tradition.

Watch a sneak peek below of some of the displays accompanying the Christmas Eve House at Galaxy of Lights.

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Walking Nights and Driving Nights

MacGilvray said thousands of people visit the Botanical Garden on the walking nights, and overall they have around 100,000 visitors by the time Galaxy of Lights ends.

Galaxy of Lights Walking Nights will continue until November 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. each night. Admission for members is $10 for adults and $5 for children. For non-members, admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children. Children two and under are free.

"Everyone that comes can have an opportunity to visit Santa and get their picture taken,'' said MacGilvray.

Attendees can also walk through snow falling and sip hot chocolate or spirited beverages along the way. Workers at Santas Sweet Shop said they buy pallets of cocoa to have enough for all the visitors.

Driving Nights start on November 29 and run through January 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (last admission). Admission for passenger cars (up to 10 people) is $25 at the gate or $20 when purchased in advance either online or at the Garden. On Monday nights, military with I.D. will receive a $5 discount. (Military Monday discounts only apply to Driving Nights.)

"The driving nights are also neat because you can make it your own experience," said MacGilvray.

The Galaxy will be closed on December 2nd and 3rd for the Galaxy 5k and 3k.

On November 25, bring your dog to walk the Galaxy of Lights Trail. Admission is just $3 per dog.

Once you attend Galaxy of Lights, be sure and submit a picture for a chance to win a $50 gift card to the Shoppe at the Garden!

Who's Behind It All?

MacGilvray emphasized that none of this would be possible without their volunteers.

"Our Galaxy of Lights crew design and build all of our almost 200 displays. They do it all themselves," said MacGilvray.  "We really couldn't do it without them."

It takes 11 weeks to set up and power the light show and five weeks to take it down.

Over eight miles of extension cords are used to light the displays, and 2,000 luminaries guide visitors through the light show.

MacGilvray said anyone is welcome to volunteer. For more information on volunteering, click here.

Visit Huntsville Botanical Garden on Facebook to keep up with their events.

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