Visiting the Toledo Zoo as a child is one of my favorite childhood memories. I remember that when snow covered the ground, we all knew in my family it was time to visit the zoo and see the lights. Since then, it has been an annual road trip for me that never leaves me disappointed when I arrive.
Want to go?
WHAT: Lights Before Christmas
WHEN: Sunday-Thursday 3-8 p.m. & Friday-Saturday 3-9 p.m., Now-December 31 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas)
WHERE: The Toledo Zoo, 2 Hippo Way, Toledo
COST: $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and children under age of 11, children under age of 2 are free, group rates available for those with 20 or more in attendance
INFO: Online at www.toledozoo.org or call 419-385-4040
The Lights Before Christmas has become a holiday tradition for thousands of people each year. This year, celebrating its 27th year of creating holiday magic, the zoo has some new things going on, including an inflatable winter playground. When I heard this, I turned into my 5-year old self and knew I just had to go out and take pictures of the lights and report to you, dear readers, about all the exciting happenings. Check out the photos I took HERE.
I packed a warm sweater, some gloves, and my camera of course, turned on my Christmas music on my car radio and headed out to the Toledo Zoo, laughing all the way.
As soon as I turned down Anthony Wayne Trail in Toledo, joy elated my soul with excitement. Did I mention I love Christmas?
One of my favorite features is the 85-foot Norway spruce tree that stands near the plant conservatory at the zoo. Employees spend around 2 weeks ahead of the season decorating the tree with its more than 30,000 blue Christmas lights. This tree has more lights than the tree that stands at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
The inflatable playground, new this year, features a 15-foot ride-able rocking horse, a human-sized snow globe and a 50-foot inflatable slide that participants can ride down on inner tubes. Of course, the train and the animal-themed carousel are still a beloved favorite of the crowd.
Some fun facts about the Lights Before Christmas I learned while riding the train:
• If all the lights were to be strung together, they would stretch to just under 70 miles
• Nearly 10 miles, or 50,000 feet of extension cords are used
• Over 200 animal light images are crafted by employees, not store bought
• The Toledo Zoo began using LED lights in 2002 to become more energy-efficient, this year over half of the lights are LED
Although most animals are now indoors because of the colder weather, light-goers can still walk through the warm indoor reptile house and the plant conservatory, as well as see the penguins, polar bears, seals and other arctic animals who, in fact, become a lot more active in the cold.
While walking around the beautiful lighted paths, I heard carolers in the distance and later found out the group was locally based in Toledo. Watching children’s faces as they stood in line to see Santa, couples of all ages holding hands staring up at the trees, passing food stands of hot chocolate and roasted peanuts for sale, I couldn’t help but get a wide smile on my face.
No matter who you are or what age you are, the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo should be at the top of your must-do’s this holiday season.