Southern Bank supports WinterLights, Joy Night at The Elizabethan Gardens

Published 8:01 am Sunday, January 23, 2022

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When The Elizabethan Gardens took a leap of faith and illuminated their flourishing gardens for the holidays, Southern Bank was a visionary partner in the endeavor. Now a time-honored tradition, The Elizabethan Gardens annual WinterLights holiday display has been enjoyed by countless families, community members and visitors, special guests and school-aged children in an outreach project called “Joy Night.”

The Gardens began this winter holiday tradition in 2010 by illuminating the over 10-acre site with lights and sights. Visitors view the lights by strolling the paths to enjoy the millions of lights that sparkle like diamonds in the night.

Southern Bank has been by our faithful partner since the start of this holiday project,” remarked Linda Davenport, president of The Elizabethan Gardens’ board. “It has been an honor to have this community leader to sponsor event. Our garden truly shines brighter because of the support of Southern Bank and our community.”

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“The Southern Bank Foundation is pleased to be able to annually assist The Elizabethan Gardens with WinterLights, which has become a holiday attraction on the Outer Banks,” said Jason Waughtel, Southern Bank senior vice president/ area manager.

Carl Curnutte, executive director of The Gardens, joined Davenport in touting the community-minded bank’s support. “In many ways Winterlights is our holiday gift to the community. And with help from Southern Bank, we continue to offer our holiday displays to spread joy.”

Curnutte fondly recalled the first year of WinterLights: “We had a big vision, but our infrastructure wasn’t ideal. But we persevered. Support from Southern Bank, and periodic grants from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and our community allowed us to expand our infrastructure and invest.”

Additionally, Southern Bank sponsored The Elizabethan Gardens’ “Joy Night.” Initiated 10 years ago, The Gardens invites school-aged students to enjoy the lights and receive Christmas presents donated by the community. “Southern Bank once again has agreed to help with this event and brought out volunteers to assist as well,” remarked Curnutte. Despite adaptations to allow social distancing and best practices, the tradition continues. Joy Night children go home with warm coats, toys and grocery cards with thanks to Southern Bank and other community donors.

A staple of the holiday, WinterLights brings the non-profit gardens additional revenue during a time when the colder weather brings less guests outdoors to visit.

Curnutte added, “We are proud that our displays have become an Outer Banks (and regional) holiday tradition. We have brightened up the season for over tens of thousands of guests since our humble beginnings and hope to keep the tradition alive for many years to come.”