Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Jeffrey C. Hallo

Committee Member

Matthew T. J. Brownlee

Committee Member

William C. Norman

Committee Member

J. A. Beeco


Nighttime activities and events specifically related to natural phenomena are becoming increasingly popular. As nighttime recreation in parks and protected areas increases, managers must implement policies and frameworks that maintain both the visitor experience and natural darkness and soundscapes. The Congaree National Park Fireflies Festival celebrates the annual fireflies mating season, and after national renown for this event the park has witnessed increased visitation. Over the past year, visitation rates have forced management to implement a designated trail to enhance the visitor experience while reducing crowding on the boardwalk and manage the natural phenomena more like a festival event than an outdoor recreation opportunity. Visitor perceptions of these actions are currently unknown. Therefore, this study examined visitor motivations for attending the event and their perceptions of crowding to distinguish whether festival attendees had higher tolerances of crowding at a nature-based event within a national park. This study implemented an online survey and phone interviews to distinguish what factors at the Fireflies Festival bolster or degrade visitor experiences and to gauge perceptions of current and future management actions. Moreover, this study sought to understand visitor motivations to attend BBNEs and employed the novelty-seeking and event (festival) motivations scales. This study expands on night recreation research and fills in some of the literature gap on nighttime event management in a national park setting.



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