Starfire Follies

Help bring a new show to Garden Glow - Starfire Follies! 10 stages,120 acts, 2,880 stars.

  • $5,005

    pledged of $3,500

    • 30


    • 0


This project received pledges on Thu 31 Dec 2020

Though this crowdfunding project has ended, there’s still opportunities to support Garden Glow and McCrory Gardens all year long, check out and search for "McCrory Gardens- Garden Glow."

A short summary of our goal: 

McCrory Gardens is raising $2880 to bring a new production (holiday lights display) to Garden Glow!  "Starfire Follies" will be performed nightly on a limited run: December 5, 2020 - January 6, 2021.  Accentuating style and grace, stars (holographic spheres) will appear effortlessly on their stages (trees). Set as a "theatre in the round", all patrons will have the best view in the house to watch the parading lights sparkle and shimmer. We're in need of your help to fund the show - #GrowtheGlow!  

Who are we?

McCrory Gardens is a botanical garden and arboretum, located in Brookings, SD on the campus of South Dakota State University.  In 1965, this 70 acre horticulturally intriguing sanctuary for the soul was established.   In 2015, the very first Garden Glow was held.  As the years pass, the popularity of Garden Glow grows because of people power.  The attendance to Garden Glow doubles each year.  The financial support of Garden Glow increases in size as does the number of donors.  Thusly, the expanse of Garden Glow grows, increasing the number of staff & volunteer hours put into the entire production.

Please take a moment to read this theatrical take on the "cast and crew" of McCrory Gardens, responsible for our 2020 Garden Glow "show".  The names of the people as well as their positions at McCrory are true.  Their "theatrical works" are actually references to their families.  We wouldn't be able to perform without their support!

The outdoor lights display we've chosen to install is called "Starfire Follies".  Imagine that you've just been asked to help bring this show to McCrory.  There are 10 Scotch Pine trees to serve as the stages, 120 clear holographical spheres = the "acts" that hold the 2,880 stars (lights).

Creative team


Mr. Schlenker is an original member of the Garden Glow development team (2015). As builder and buyer for the production, Chris knows a lot about exterior illumination. His "day job" is the Horticulture and Grounds Manager of McCrory Gardens. You may know Chris from some of his more personal works: "Norgaard, Abbey", "My Willow, My Heart", and most recently "Jasper in June".


Ms. Lind is also an original member of the Garden Glow development team (2015). Christina is the epitome of joy! She is the Education Coordinator and Horticulturist of McCrory Gardens. You'll see choreographed scenes all throughout the three acres of lights on display. If you have yet to experience it, "Leiana Live" is a traveling performance managed by Ms. Lind's private touring company. Well worth the watch, if you can keep up!


Ms. Krogstad joined the Garden Glow development team in 2018. In her newest role at the Gardens as Crew Leader and Digital Media Manager, Miranda adds valuable attributes such as creativity, flexibility, and tenacity. (And she knows where all of the breaker boxes are and how to repair unlit lights!) An improvisational series, "My Name's not Miriam" has hit the local scene with wildly grand reviews. You're going to want to keep up with this young woman's career!


It's not uncommon for people to wear multiple hats, literally and figuratively, in a small company such as ours. Ms. Puetz became rooted into the Garden Glow production team in 2019. Lori sustains the Education & Visitor Center as the Venue Sales and Services Coordinator. Her side gig productions include "I Once Was a Campus Tech Guy", "To Catch a Derecho", and "The Tree Whisperer".


Ms. Marotz joined the Garden Glow development team as an understudy in 2016. Serving as the Director of Operations for McCrory Gardens, she's accustomed to broadcasting the story of the Gardens to any and all who will listen. Marotz has played a few various roles during her lifetime. She's most proud to be included in such works as "Em & M - A Royal Engagement", "How Dry is My Humor", "Don't Stop Retrieving - a Vet School Musical", and "Hello Birdie, Bye-Bye Heart".

bill,  Sidonia,  amy

A traditional team of production assistants (PAs) have meticulous attention to details.  These three have helped to make sure that every light bulb is tested, every branch of garland is fluffed, and every board-and-chicken-wire structure is reinforced to withstand a month of South Dakota winds. Without a doubt, these PAs are MVPs.

Pictured here from left to right:  Sidonia, Bill, Miranda, Chris, Lori, Christina, Lisa (Photo taken for SDSU President Barry Dunn's "Above and Beyond" feature in his 11/9/2020 Monday Morning Message to the campus.)

Landry,  Kelly,  Mia & Kelli

In this production, it takes marketing, mailings, and massive amounts of layers for keeping warm outdoors to greet, guide and share our gratitude with all patrons attending Garden Glow. These young women of the running crew are ready to, well, RUN!  You'll see their faces in person during each night of Garden Glow.

our story

The heart of the matter is that there is no time like the present to bring up the lights and start the show of Garden Glow. Each year, the small but mighty McCrory team manages to wow and amaze thousands of visitors. Who would have ever dreamed that a botanical garden and arboretum in South Dakota would receive more than 7,000 visitors in the month of December? It happened in 2019. In fact, attendance has continued to double each year since 2016.

Garden Glow is more than holiday lights. It's a compilation of emotions that are experienced through all of your senses. It's for an audience of all ages. As an entirely outdoor display across three acres of the Gardens, the ability to enjoy time with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, fellow church-goers, and even a first date, can be managed quite safely. (Knock on wood, we've never had anyone actually break a leg.) 

Garden Glow is made possible by ticket sales, donations to this and the previous two Rabbit Raisers** projects, and direct sponsorships of trees in the Enchanted Forest*.  

*Garden Glow humbly began in 2015 by displaying eleven fresh evergreen trees on the Terrace Lawn. Sponsorships of $250 per tree were gathered, and the Enchanted Forest was born. The tradition lives on and it's clearly the foundation of a beloved event for both campus and community.  

The photo below is of Enchanted Forest, 2019.  **The fun and success of our very first Rabbit Raiser in 2018 brought crystal reindeer to Reindeer Meadow.  With the momentum of enthusiastic contributors, not only did we get reindeer, we were able to purchase trees, shooting stars, starbursts and hundreds of feet of lights!                              

**In 2019, Mrs. Claus got her very own retreat within the Herb Garden of McCrory.  Another successful Rabbit Raiser allowed for the investment of thousands of soft white lights in the forms of netting, snowflakes, willow branches and globes.  Mrs. C. also has her own gazebo.  In 2020, you'll find this structure, with its colors of traditional green, blue, red and orange lights, gracing the Terrace Lawn. 

Where will the money go?

Starfire follies - the newest display of garden glow

When $2,880 are donated, this will cover the purchase of 120 six-inch clear spheres that contain 24 stars each. "Holographic Spheres" - click the link to view a sneak peek from the manufacturer - see how they work as an ensemble!

"Some assembly required" is an understatement to getting these beauties ready to perform.

We can't overlook the not-so-glamorous but OH-SO-IMPORTANT items that must be purchased to bring power & organization to the show.

Extension Cords, reels and timers.  Multiply this need by 10 to service each "stage".

The show would go flat if it weren't for the structures that give it dimension & support.  We prefer to use items that are tried and true.  

Sign stakes.  Lumber.  Chicken Wire.  Zip Ties, lots and lots of zip ties!

Help us succeed! 

You don't need to give money to help us succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog. 

In fact, share it with everyone you know as we think it's a bright idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly.

Click anywhere you see the words Garden Glow to get to ALL of the details you need to know about this one-of-a-kind, greatest show these gardens have yet to give to you and yours!

Thank you to all and to all a GLOWY night!

Choose reward

Pledge $1 or more

Select this reward if you just want to donate to the project without receiving a reward.

17 claimed

Pledge $25 or more

Level 1: STAGE HAND. An on the move but rarely seen unit of any production. The show of Starfire Follies would NOT go on without such things as extension cords, specialty power packs and timers. Giving at THE STAGE HAND level would afford us the ability to invest in these essentials.

7 claimed

Pledge $45 or more

Level 2: TECH CREW. Perhaps the most stressful and exciting part of a production. When it comes to Starfire Follies, tech is life and movement. High powered controllers with digital readout, specialty cables of varying lengths, as well as 3-way and 7-way splitters. Would you like to be a part of the TECH CREW level? Your gift will help us mesmerize the masses!

3 claimed

Pledge $65 or more

Level 3: Ensemble. Members of the ensemble are called upon to sing, dance, and play smaller roles. Brighter energy saving LED lights replace incandescents, projectors provide playful lights, and the addition of ground level up-lighting will bring a nuance of old Hollywood. Giving at the ENSEMBLE level will help to brilliantly transform this outdoor garden stage.

1 claimed

Pledge $85 or more

Level 4: UNDERSTUDY. In this role, one is responsible for learning the part of the lead actors to be able to perform as a replacement at short notice. At Garden Glow, we need the structure an understudy provides to the overall success of a show. Steel sign posts, yards of lumber & PVC pipe, chicken wire, and hundreds of zip ties are a must! Giving at the UNDERSTUDY level demonstrates your appreciation for the importance of a strong framework.

1 claimed

Pledge $105 or more

Level 5: LEAD ACTOR. A lead actor is at the center of the story and propels the storyline of the show forward. In this particular scene, YOU will be the lead actor and producer, funding one of the ten stage acts (a set of 12 spheres, 144 stars) to Starfire Follies. The philanthropist in you doesn't mind sharing the limelight as it will take 10 gifts at the LEAD ACTOR level to fully fund the performance piece of Starfire Follies.

1 claimed