Janesville58.3°

Rotary Gardens extending night hours

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Shelly Birkelo
July 18, 2012

— Rotary Botanical Gardens will be open until 8 p.m. after extending its hours of operation.

The plan is to continue the new hours through Labor Day. The gardens previously closed at 6 p.m.

"We will monitor the numbers and see what kind of attendance we're getting during the extended hours and then re-evaluate whether it makes sense to continue,'' said Mary Fanning-Penny, executive director.

The ongoing heat wave likely has deterred loyal visitors and potential guests, pushing attendance down in June by about 950 compared to the same month last year.

"Typically, most want to visit during the day when they have a lot of time to spend enjoying the gardens. But given the extreme heat and humidity, I think a lot of people have chosen other recreation that includes swimming or air-conditioned activities," Fanning-Penny said.

The attendance dip resulted in about a $3,000 loss for June, she said.

Attendance also was down in May, but the decline wasn't as significant, Fanning-Penny said.

While 3,068 people visited Rotary Gardens in May 2011, only 2,945 people did so in May this year, she said.

The good news, Fanning-Penny said, is that staff and volunteers said they noticed a slight increase in attendance mid- to late last week, when temperatures dropped a bit, Fanning-Penny said.

The extended hours should encourage people to enjoy the gardens during the relative cool of the evening, she said.

"The hope is the extended hours will provide more flexibility for people who in the past wouldn't have been able to visit the gardens during the shorter hours," Fanning-Penny said.

Under the new hours, admissions will end at 8 p.m., and guests will be required to leave by 8:30.

For more details on hours, admission cost or upcoming events, visit rotarybotanicalgardens.org.



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