To the editor:

Thanks to all for a great 4th Annual Brite Nites Event in Warren


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On behalf of Wagner Farm Arboretum's board of trustees, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make the 4th Annual Brite Nites fundraising event a resounding success. Wagner Farm Arboretum hosted the event over seven nights and I was nothing but elated at the weather and turnout! Thank you all for attending this year's Brite Nites event. We cannot thank you enough.              


A huge thank you is given to Wells Fargo Advisors for sponsoring the 4th Annual Brite Nites event. We are so grateful for your generous financial support! Thank you to all of our additional sponsors --Investors Bank, Raymond D. Manner Plumbing & Heating, Warren Blueridge Sportmans Inc., Miller's Rentals, Stop & Shop, Chelsea Senior Living, Primrose Schools, Wegmans,  DiNardo's Service Center, Fiorilli Hair Design, Fulton Bank of New Jersey, Warrenville Paint & Hardware, for their financial support.


Thank you to all the bakers, A&P of Dewey Meadow, A&P of Warren, Gloriously Gluten Free, Kings of Warren, Shop Rite, Somerset County Vocational / Culinary Arts School, The Sub Zone, Whole Food Markets of Madison and Millburn. Your assistance is very much appreciated.


Thanks to the friends of the Arboretum--all the pumpkin carvers, Tom Byrne, Grant Construction Associates, Inc., Hall's Garden Center & Florist, Douglas Jamieson for sharing his 400 pound pumpkin, Luke Schinbeckler, Bobby Spisak, Springhouse Farming LLC, Take Flight Dance Center, George Vetter Landscaping, Warren Rescue Squad, Warren Recreation, Mt. Bethel Volunteer Fire Company #1, and Mt. Horeb Volunteer Fire Company #2. Your help is recognized and valued.


Thanks also to the Warren, Long Hill, and Watchung Police Departments for their service in making Wagner Farm Arboretum a safe place for everyone during Brite Nites. 


Thank you very much, Ila Gillenwater, for organizing and overseeing the Black Hat Café during Brite Nites. You and your volunteers worked extremely hard every night creating the pleasant atmosphere and delicious sweets the café offers!


The Take Flight Dance Center of Millington certainly takes Halloween seriously. Its dancers, dressed as vampires, performed a high-energy, high-leaping, ghoulish routine six times a night. The Take Flight dancers attracted the full attention of audiences and a bustle of excitement could be felt during each performance. A big thank you to Eleanora Hermann, director of Warren's Recreation, for starting the dance feature in 2012 and to Jill Cookingham, the founder, owner, and artistic director of Take Flight Dance Center, for producing such an entertaining show. In addition thank you to the Blueridge Sportsmans Inc. who helped create and set up the props for the dancers and volunteered at the event. 


The Pumpkin Path would not have been possible without Barbara Sullivan. Her dedication, energy, enthusiasm, and hard work in directing and staging the carved, lit pumpkins, is so very much appreciated and an outstanding success! Many thanks, Barbara. My thanks also go to all of the creative pumpkin carvers and Lee Hansen who lighted 1500 pumpkins that contributed to making the experience magical.


 A new feature in the Pumpkin Path was a Scarecrow Competition. Thank you to Lisa Young for organizing it and helping make Brite Nites an enjoyable event! Categories were set up to handle the creativity of the community-the funniest, scariest, and most original. All the scarecrow entries were displayed in the Pumpkin Path as part of its lighted pumpkin pathway. Families, clubs, and organizations, joined together to create scarecrows as a fun project. Thank you, Lisa!


Photographer, Steve Byland, who hails from Warren, and is becoming wildly creative with photo manipulations, offered his artistic services. Steve takes awesome pictures, has some Photoshop fun that includes Halloween inspiration. Those attendees that opted to have their picture taken by Steve received some funny, spooky results. Thank you very much, Steve!


Visitors that dared were treated to a series of mighty scary scenes in this year's Haunted Showcase thanks for Artistic Director Bill Ward. Bill might be a little too good at his job because many screams of excitement were heard during the showcase's operation. Thank you, Bill, for a job well done.


Thank you to Laura Burger and Crystal Byler for coordinating the hundreds of volunteers that were an integral part of the event. 


Last but not least I would like to thank Ann Marie McGowan, the arboretum's office manager, for overseeing the ticketing and the gate not to mention all of the other areas that she worked on so diligently to make sure that nothing fell through the cracks.


Wagner Farm Arboretum Gardens & Learning Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the environmental and horticultural education of children and adults through the collection, study, and display of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plant life in a beautiful, natural setting to encourage cultivation and conservation of plant life in ways that promote community involvement and increased environmental awareness. Proceeds from the Brite Nites fundraising event will help with the purchase of three greenhouses one of which will house a butterfly conservatory and another greenhouse will extend the Giving Garden growing season. To date the Arboretum's Giving Garden has donated 95,000 pounds of fresh produce to the needy in Essex, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset, and Union counties.



 Suzanne Smith

 President, WFA