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Bloom Boom: Dallas Arboretum Attendance Up 34 Percent In 2014

When you look back on the trends of 2014, one thing’s clear. Flora and fauna were in.

The Dallas Arboretum saw record breaking attendance last year, up 34 percent from the year before.

Thursday was blue-skied and sunny but with temperatures hovering around freezing, only a few, brave visitors walked the Arboretum’s footpaths.

Alessandro Attura is originally from Rome and has lived in Dallas for 18 years. He’s hosting friends from Italy this week, so no matter the temperature, he couldn’t stay away from the arboretum.

“I think it’s a nice show off place for friends, tourists, visitors,” says Attura.”There is a great deal of care for the details which is very admirable.”

Ironically, on a frigid day where the arboretum is all but deserted, the headline here is record-breaking attendance. Almost 980 thousand guests in 2014.

“An all time record, and it’s a 34 percent increase over last year, so quite a jump,” says Dave Forehand, Vice President of Gardens and Visitor Services.

He gives some of the credit to the new 12 Days of Christmas exhibit. 2014 was also the first full year for the arboretum’s 62 million dollar children’s garden.

Bad weather earlier in the year didn’t keep visitors away either.

“Been a bit of a rainy spring, couldn’t help that,” Forehand says. “But even with that in the mix we still had these record numbers.”

Attendance in 2014 managed even to top the crowds from two years ago, when a renowned display was front and center at the arboretum.

“Even with that Chihuly glass exhibit, the sculptures we had from 2012, we more than surpassed the number from that year, this year, without having that type of exhibit.”

Forehand says there’s still plenty to see in January. Cheerful pansies in purple and white. Fat cabbages, fickle camellias and sparkling lake views.

“We’ve got a have a few of these cold days, that’s what makes the garden beautiful in the spring. We’ve got to have a little bit of winter,” says Forehand.

And on a cold weekday in January, the arboretum’s at least a half dozen people closer to hitting that million visitor mark.

If you’re a nature lover who also loves parkas, admission to the arboretum is $5 all month.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.