Thunder, lightning, flooding and frustrating delays aside, we opened the gates at last Saturday’s Bon Festival beneath clear skies and sent almost 1,000 lighted lanterns into Morikami Lake; as one Facebook fan so aptly put it, we braved “the storm before the calm.”
We want to first thank our visitors and steadfast supporters who braved this storm with us on Saturday. Under torrential rain and severe weather advisory until 6:30 pm, we opted to open our doors no later than 7:30pm. There was no shortage of work to be done: downed power lines to be lifted, flooded areas of the garden to be staked off, and staff and volunteers who had sought shelter indoors needed to return to their posts. With a quick, concerted group effort and taiko drums warming up to welcome you, we opened the gates a half hour before schedule.
We got the word out as widely and quickly as we could about our delayed opening, and asked that visitors return to their cars for their safety. We know how far so many of you traveled – from Key West, Orlando, Jacksonville and beyond – and we apologize for the waiting, confusion, and our less-than-pristine appearance that night. We’ve already received many incredible images and messages from those of you who joined us. Whether or not you made it, however, we want to make it up to you.
We’re offering EVERYONE who purchased tickets to Bon Festival 2012 one of two options, so keep an eye out for an email with a link to redeem either of these offers this afternoon. We think it’s a win-win either way: take your pick of free admission to September Sushi & Stroll, Oshogatsu or Hatsume OR, choose a Morikami membership, minus the cost of your Obon admission, plus 10% off AND an extra month free – whew! If you opt to become a member, Bon Festival 2013 is also free (and if you choose membership before this Friday, you get in free to August Sushi & Stroll).
We know these offers can’t undo unmet expectations, but we hope you’ll join us again soon – and as early as this Friday! We look forward to seeing you again on sunnier days, and thank you as always for sticking with us.