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Back to the Swamp



Back to the Swamp
WRITER: 
January 2019

Cypress Gardens eyes a January reopening

Cypress Gardens is centered around 80 acres of blackwater swamp.

As the camellias reach peak bloom and the swamp sparrows glide over the blackwater, the start of a new year brings a long-awaited sense of renewal to Cypress Gardens.

The attraction closed its gates after 2015 flooding wreaked $4 million worth of havoc. Ever since, visitors have been barred from guiding flat-bottomed boats through the swamp (as characters in The Notebook famously did) and walking the flower-lined paths that Benjamin Rufus Kittredge opened to the public in 1931.

“Just about every building on the property was damaged,” says Carli Drayton with the Berkeley County Office of Public Information. Subsequent storms collaborated with FEMA-funding red tape to draw out the rehabilitation timeline.

But now, after more than three years, officials with Berkeley County aim to reopen the park this month. A nearly $364,000 restoration of the boat dock is complete; the bridges and swamp walkways are repaired; and amenities like the visitors’ center, ticket booth, and restrooms look better than ever.

It wouldn’t have been possible without help from the community, notes Drayton. In addition to nearly $10,000 in donations, volunteers tackled jobs such as clearing overgrowth from pathways and transplanting flora into the Butterfly House. “We typically had five or six people show up to assist us every day,” she says.

So when can you make a long-awaited trip? Follow Cypress Gardens on Facebook for details on the opening date.

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Photograph courtesy of (Swamp) Cypress Gardens