What do you get when you mix sponsorship from one of America’s largest energy providers and a world renowned zoo? Not withstanding the overall sleep deprived status of the zoos inhabitants, you reap the benefits one of the most impressive and enjoyable Christmas Light displays anywhere. The Columbus Zoo is celebrating it’s 20th year of Wildlights.
The Columbus Zoo, located just north of Columbus, OH at 4850 West Powel Road in Powell, OH has partnered this year with American Electric Power (AEP) to make this year’s Christmas Light display even lighter and brighter. More importantly, the partnership has enabled the Columbus Zoo to make this year’s display greener than ever before. We’re not talking about green lights, though I’m sure you’ll find plenty among the over 3 million lights on display.
Greener, as in reducing environmental impact. AEP’s partnership with the Zoo has enabled them to convert the conventional lighting displays to the more energy friendly LED lights. The result is a brighter light that burns more efficiently and lasts longer than the traditional bulbs. They cost less to operate and by having to replace fewer bulbs will reduce waste.
Wildlights is set to begin November 21 and will be running nightly through January 3. Hours are Sundays through Thursdays 5 pm until 9 pm (10 pm Fridays and Saturdays) and admission is free with your paid Zoo admission. A special member’s only preview is scheduled for November 20.
Local high school choirs and carolers are scheduled to perform at the newly renovated Entry Village on selected evenings. The Central Ohio Model Railroad Club has helped, in part, to provide an impressive model railroad display in that area as well.
I can’t wait to see the animated light display at The Watering Hole. Newly added this year, there is a much touted light display animated and set to music at the central pond. It is scheduled to begin every half hour and lasts approximately nine minutes. To use their words, it is “extravagant.”
You can also bring your ice skates (or rent a pair for $3) and enjoy the Frozone Ice Rink. According to the Zoo website, the Ice Rink usage will be based on capacity. That means expect a crowd.
Certainly this is not a comprehensive or ranked list of the many activities you can expect to enjoy at this year’s Wildlights for, as my kids are quick to mention, Santa will also be there. Is it mention or scream? “SANTA, SANTA, SANTA!!!” Sometimes I get confused. By all means, make sure your kids bring their wish list as Santa will be on hand at the Water’s Edge Events Park to assess naughty and nice and accept last minute requests and pictures. Hint: Don’t pull this Santa’s Beard!
There are so many things to do during Wildlights that you may just forget that there are animals on display. Don’t forget, the zoo is open year round 9 am – 6 pm. Though some of the animals are off display during the colder winter months there are plenty of creatures that love this time of year as well as the numerous indoor exhibits.
Come early and stay late experiencing one of Central Ohio’s favorite holiday traditions, Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo.
Wildlights is closed Nov. 27, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.
Photos: Ed Lamaze, Fensterbme (Creative Commons)