It’s frigid out there. Snow has been falling. The Christmas commercials and songs are playing non-stop from every electronic device. It’s a regular holiday hoot-nanny in all of the stores. So, naturally, it’s the perfect time to head out for a stroll through the zoo.
No, I haven’t finally snapped. It’s time for the annual Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo. Less than half an hour away, the zoo is a popular spot for families during the warmer months. (I mean, who doesn’t love to pop their head up into those little domed tunnels at the prairie dog exhibit?) But each year, during the holiday season, the Turtle Back Zoo transforms into a spectacularly lit winter wonderland, with more than 100,000 bulbs and 40 lit displays to delight guests.
What’s that? Cutting down on holiday outings to save money for those expensive Christmas gifts? No worries! From 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, and running through New Year’s Day (excluding only Dec. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 24th), admission is totally FREE!!!! Nope – that is not a typo, my friends. All they ask for is donations of non-perishable foods, winter coats, and UNWRAPPED, NEW toys for the needy. It’s a way for you to be a light in someone’s life who really needs it, while you get to enjoy the lights and the beauty of the zoo’s display.
The event will feature illuminated figures of animals, holiday scenes, and stars, and many (although not all) of the regular exhibits at the zoo will also remain open. The zoo’s director, Dr. Jeremy Goodman claims many of the animals are actually more active in the cold weather. The kids (OK – the adults, too) can have their pictures taken with Frosty, a reindeer, and others who will be hanging around. And you can get some quality, expense-free, beauty-surrounding time with the family this holiday season.
The zoo , located at 560 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, NJ, was threatened with closure in the mid-1990s, and has come back with $20 million in new exhibits and upgrades — s part of the newly rebranded South Mountain Recreation Complex. It is thriving and growing, and thankfully remains an important part of childhood memory-making for our area, just as it did for many of US s kids! And this is the perfect way to make NEW memories, and set up a new holiday tradition for your family. Visit http://www.turtlebackzoo.org for more information.