Prep work for zoo’s Wildlights starts on Labor Day

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The Columbus Zoo' annual Wildlights display, runs nightly through Jan. 4.

Unraveling, testing and hanging 2 million lights is no small feat.

But it was done for the 24th consecutive year as a small crew prepped the annual Wildlights exhibit to open Nov. 16 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Setup work for the annual holiday lights display at the zoo that runs through Jan. 1 begins on Labor Day, said experiential marketing director Jeff Glorioso.

“Our grounds maintenance team has a system. They’re constantly working on new ideas and plans,” he said. “Putting up the lights starts usually around Labor Day and they work right up to the time (Wildlights opens). It’s a small, but mighty dedicated crew that does that.”

The lights on display are the energy-efficient LED variety, thanks to AEP, and feature some new attractions this year.

“We have about the same amount of lights that we had last year, however there are a lot of new features like the Global Celebration around the lake,” Glorioso said. “At the Global Celebration, the 24-foot in diameter globe will be back but we re-energized the music and added a few new light features. That plays every half hour starting at 5:45 p.m. every night.”

The Global Celebration at Conservation Lake is one of the most popular attractions of Wildlights, Glorioso said.

“Obviously the carousel is huge because it’s enclosed,” he said.

“Santa is always a big favorite as well as the light show around the lake.
The nine-minute show is one of our highest attractions. We have folks email in ideas of what we can do each year. It’s nice to have that involvement.”

Another new feature at Wildlights is the Global Celebrations Village in the Asia Quest area. Flags from all 192 countries in the world will be displayed in addition to eight animated international carolers.

“Something new this year is Polar Pete’s Culture Christmas,” Glorioso said. “It features a giant snow globe where guests can walk inside and see what it’s like in a giant snow globe.”

Diving Claus will make an appearance at the aquarium nightly and Mrs. Claus also will be available in her kitchen, where children can decorate cookies.

Groups from all over central Ohio including the Worthington Chorus, Weinland Park Elementary and Columbus Chorus of Sweet Adelines will make an appearance at Wildlights.

“We have Sounds of the Season on the Animals on Safari stage,” Glorioso said. “Various organizations from around the community come in every night, whether it’s a band or choir. The list grows every year.”

Other Wildlights attractions include the Bob Evans Polar Bear Express, Santa’s Reindeer Corral and a Down Home Country Christmas at the My Barn at Habitat Hollow.

Wildlights runs from 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 1, with the exception of Nov. 22, Dec. 24 and 25 when the zoo will be closed.

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