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Guido Gardens “Night of Lights” celebrates Christ’s birth
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Guido Gardens are open 24/7 year round, but the “Night of Lights” Christmas spectacular opened Dec. 13 and will continue each night, from 6 to 9 p.m. with no admission cost, he said. - photo by Herald File

An idea inspired during a trip to Nashville almost three decades ago turned into one of the most visited Christmas lights display in the state.

In 1990, the late Dr. Michael Guido, founder of the “Seeds from the Sower” ministry, and his friend Ellis Wood, were moved to create a holiday attraction that reflected the true meaning of Christmas, said Larry Guido, Dr. Guido’s brother and president of Guido Ministries.

Wood and Dr. Guido wanted to imitate the display in Nashville, but “with an emphasis on “the true meaning of the holiday, the Birth of Jesus,” Larry Guido told the Statesboro Herald.

In 1991 a small “array of lights were woven in the bushes along with several displays for the very first time” at Guido Gardens in Metter, he said. “Since this small beginning, many new displays and millions of bright lights have been added, attracting many thousands of visitors to Guido Gardens each year. Individuals and families come from as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia, to make their annual pilgrimage to Metter to enjoy the Nights of Lights.”

The Gardens are open 24/7 year round, but the “Night of Lights” Christmas spectacular opened Dec. 13 and will continue each night, from 6 to 9 p.m. with no admission cost, he said.

Over the  past several years, Larry Guido’s wife Mary “began refurbishing and replacing all of the displays and many of the 3,500,000 strands of lights that adorn the bushes, trees, gazebo, tea house, administration building, Chapel in the Pines and Conference Center,” he said. T

It is a laborious task that starts over each year. “… Each strand of lights must be checked to make sure that every bulb is working, in order to tell this important story,” he said. “Then, (each) October, ‘Mary's Helpers’ begin to place the displays in the Gardens. It takes nearly three months to place the display in certain sections of the Garden and then arrange the lights on the waterfalls, bridges, bushes, and beds of flowers.”

There are a variety of attractions including lighted Biblical and patriotic displays such as a large American flag, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, and four toy soldiers.  Children will be delighted with such "whimsical figures, like bears, trying to climb trees, hummingbirds hovering over blooming flowers, and a multicolored peacock proudly looking at the guest,” he said.

While there are traditional Christmas symbols, the focus is on the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth. Biblical displays include the Ten Commandments and two Noah's Arks; “One with the animals actually climbing a ramp into the wooden ark, and one made of wire and lights with the animals walking on board,” Guido said. “Children also enjoy waving at

‘Jonah in the Whale.’ Many of them actually try to get in the whale and sit next to Jonah while parents take pictures of them as if joining Jonah on his most unusual journey”

One of the most reverent displays is a life-size nativity scene with animated figures. “As visitors take in the recreation, they enjoy a recording by Michael Guido as he shares the story of the Birth of Jesus from the Gospel,” he said.

 In the Chapel, people can view scenes from the famous "Seeds From the Sower" on a large screen TV.  When he was alive, Dr. Michael Guido and his  in the chapel, praying with people. Guido said visitors become emotional as they remember his brother. “It is not unusual to see tears of joy flowing down their cheeks as they recall the answers to their prayers offered to God on their behalf by ‘the Sower."

Upon leaving the Gardens, people will see the "Empty Tomb,” which is next to three crosses representing the crucifixion of Jesus. One cross is covered with white lights, another with red lights and another left dark, Guido said.

“The cross with red lights represents the blood of Jesus that was shed for our sins, the cross with the white lights represents the thief who came to believe in Jesus and the cross without lights represents the thief who died without knowing the Lord as his savior.”

There is also authentic replica of "The Carpenter Shop" where Jesus worked with his father, Joseph. Visitors exit the Gardens through the museum, which contains photos, newspaper articles, awards, artifacts and other items that tell the story of Michael and Audrey and the history of the historical Guido Ministry.

There were approximately 15,000 visitors in 2018. This year will be the 29th year the Night of Lights has drawn visitors to Metter, he said.

Guido Gardens is located at 600 North Lewis Street in Metter, Ga.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.

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