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Brookside Gardens shines again at night with Garden of Lights

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Flora becomes lighted fauna at Brookside Gardens this holiday season – as it does every year at this time. The Garden of Lights at Wheaton Regional Park north of downtown Wheaton offers a walk thorough light display where you can find colored lighted pathways and plants dressed up as animals, birds, insects and sea creatures.

The winter light display is open nightly through Jan. 5 (except Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1 and 2). Though you walk through it, you can't walk to it – admission is by car only. For hours, directions and prices, see http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside/garden_lights.shtm or call (301) 962-1453.

As usual, you start off walking through a giant caterpillar. But each year, a few exhibits change. This year, the show features 33 new garden globes, lighted potted boxwoods. But they were hardly the most colorful or popular exhibit. The night I attended, children were more interested in the talking bullfrog and in running around on the paths.

And at the far end of the exhibit, you'll find new dancing trees – jumping to tunes such as Don't Be Cruel and Wake Up Little Susie.

And the model railroad exhibit in the conservatory, part of the admission, changes every year. This year, for the first time, you can see a replica of the old Washington street cars – just as the new ones are about to debut. Watch replicas of the trolleys that ran until 1962 and models of a Georgetown street and Glen Echo Park. Look closely at the carousel to see it really moves.

The conservatory doesn't provide the only respite if the evening gets cold. You can always warm up and enjoy refreshments in the visitors center – where holiday music plays nightly between 6:30 and 8.

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