From Southern Grits to Holiday Glitz

A Model of the City of Atlanta, Featured on Good Morning America

Throughout the month of December ’09, the popular morning show Good Morning America featured a holiday-themed model of the city of Atlanta as a backdrop for its regular programming. The model, which was displayed in the ground-floor window in GMA’s Times Square studio, facing Broadway, was a mixed-media installation created by Todd Gurley and myself, utilizing digital design, model construction, custom fabrication, sculpture, robotics, and creative lighting techniques. The entire structure was encased inside a giant “anti-snow globe”, made out of hand-crafted glittery snowflakes. Working models of Atlanta’s New Year’s Eve Peach Drop and the iconic Macy’s Pink Pig were built and motorized to introduce motion. Several thousand fiber optic lights were installed by hand to achieve a whimsical, sparkling holiday light effect.

My Role

Photographer, Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Builder


City of Atlanta / Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau


Local Government / Tourism

Live Unveiling

The display was unveiled live from Good Morning America’s studio by cast members Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts, alongside Atlanta’s mayor Shirley Franklin. The event was simulcast with a public celebration in Atlanta, which included music and singing by the students of Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy at Atlanta’s famous Pink Pig ride.

Focus on Atlanta

Many of Atlanta’s landmarks, such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, the Fox Theater, and more, were produced on acrylic boards in multiple layers, creating dimension. Holiday scenes were digitally edited into the windows, which were printed on transparent film and backlit to create a warm, glowing effect. Since all Atlantans know there’s no such thing as snow, we used grits to create the snow around the base of the installation.


To celebrate the occasion, Macy’s, one of the project’s sponsors, released a limited edition snow globe to be sold at their stores as a miniature replica of the full-scale model. Mayor Shirley Franklin could be seen holding one of these snow globes at the unveiling ceremony on Good Morning America, and presented it as a gift to the Good Morning America cast.

Gareth Botha's work has been featured on Good Morning America, unveiled by Diane Sayer, Robin Roberts, and Mayor Shirley Franklin
A model of Atlanta, featured on Good Morning America
A model of Atlanta, featured on Good Morning America