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ZooLights Returns to Stone Zoo on Thanksgiving

The popular holiday display starts on Thanksgiving and runs through New Year's Day.

When the ZooLights holiday display is unveiled Thanksgiving evening, will be adorned by holiday decorations and "thousands upon thousands of lights," according to Brooke Wardrop, director of communications for Zoo New England.

ZooLights, a festive holiday-themed celebration that runs from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, attracted more than 42,000 visitors last year, Wardrop said, besting the goal of 39,000.

"ZooLights is such a beloved holiday tradition in Stoneham and we're hoping for an even better turnout this year," Wardrop said.

Light Up the Night Sky

Since 1996, Stone Zoo has put on ZooLights, wowing crowds with hundreds of thousands of tiny Christmas tree-type lights strung up around the zoo. Last year, volunteer groups assisted 16 zoo staffers to hang roughly 250,000 lights over nearly three acres.

But, before the lighting can begin there is much planning to be done for the event, with strategizing typically beginning shortly after Labor Day and light purchases made during the spring, Wardrop said.

Stroll Through the Forest

Yukon Creek, home to animals such as the gray fox, North American porcupine and reindeer, resembles a Canadian arboreal forest and features a logger's cabin for guests to peer into at night.

"The twinkling lights make for a really dazzling walk through this portion of the zoo," Wardrop said.

Spend Time with Santa

Santa's Castle will be adorned with lights and other decorations, and Santa Claus will be available for photographs from Thanksgiving through Dec. 23.

Visitors can also make a suggested donation of $5 to have their picture taken with reindeer nightly from 5-8:30 p.m., barring inclement weather and other variables. All proceeds benefit the zoo.

Music Anyone?

In keeping with the holiday spirit, three choral groups from the Stoneham area are lined up to perform during a three-night stretch in December, including:

  • Wakefield Choral Society on Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.
  • on Dec. 13 at 5 p.m.
  • Colonial Chorus of Reading on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

ZooLights is slated to run from 5-9 p.m. daily; however, the zoo is closed on Dec. 25.

For more information or to purchase tickets to ZooLights, visit the Stone Zoo website.

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