By Eva Potter

A new and exciting event is about to shine the light on Ellicottville like never before as Night Lights at the Nannen Arboretum flips the switch this week.

Night Lights craze has developed loyal followers all over western New York and on May 15, it’s Ellicottville’s turn to experience this visually stunning event.

Several thousand visitors are expected to visit Nannen Arboretum over the next three weekends during the Night Lights display running May 15–17, May 22–25, and May 29–31. The event takes place from 7:30–10 p.m. each evening.

Doug Sitler, of SitlerHQ LLC, has been putting on Night Lights shows for a few years now, and he and his crew have worked hard to shed new light on Nannen Arboretum with thousands of colorful lights and soothing sounds.

Sitler and his crew have been working about two weeks to set up the show and have used more than a half mile of power cables and lights, predominantly LED, to create the display.

“We’ll have about 75 lighting fixtures, which all have color-changing elements to them, like ones you’d see in the theater or for a band,” explained Sitler.

Additional lighting transitions visitors from scene to scene on the roughly ¼-mile trail. Some displays will even be interactive.

The result is a combination of magical illumination, nature, relaxing music, live performances, and artists creating artwork live, resulting in a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Sitler truly appreciates visual and performing arts and tries to incorporate these elements into his shows. As a result, the event will also spotlight local artists as they create and show their work.

He said, “I think it’s important for people to see artists creating work. Maybe it will inspire our guests to do something big.”

There will also be live, family-friendly entertainment each night.

“We really pride ourselves on the family entertainment aspect,” said Sitler. “People follow us around. I jokingly say we’re becoming the Grateful Dead.”

The gates will open at 7:30 each evening, and organizers hope visitors will walk around in daylight along the paved pathways and enjoy Nannen Arboretum’s amazing variety of tree species, rare flowers, shrubs, herb garden, nature sanctuary, Japanese stone garden, and features like Lake Nipponica and the Amano Hashidate Bridge.

Once twilight hits, the lights will become apparent.

“We create the entire thing as an experience,” Sitler explained. “We will also bring in educational elements, like a scavenger hunt for young kids.”

Live entertainment is expected to begin around 8:15 p.m. (See schedule on page 3.)

Tickets are $8 for adults and teens (kids 12 and under are free if accompanied by an adult) and can be purchased at the entrance to the arboretum. The Ellicottville Rotary Club will also host a snack bar and will lend volunteer support.

“The arboretum will benefit from gate revenue and the exposure this event brings. We have a great track record of bringing people,” said Sitler. “So we’re excited!”

The event will take place rain or shine. If weather doesn’t cooperate, entertainment and artists will set up in the auditorium of the Town Center building.

The Nannen Arboretum is located adjacent to the Town Center building at 28 Parkside Dr. (corner of Parkside and Fillmore Drive) in Ellicottville, N.Y. It is managed by the Nannen Arboretum Society, a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing garden and natural resource education and an opportunity for nature appreciation and leisure. The arboretum sits on 8 acres featuring more than 200 species of trees, a chapel, gazebos, an entertainment stage and more.

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