If the price of admission has been keeping you away from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium - and its annual Wildlights display - here's your chance to get in free and help others in the process.
In partnership with Columbus Parent magazine, the zoo will offer free admission and parking on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 22 and 23, to anyone who donates at least five nonperishable food items at the gate. Groups must present five items for each individual age 2 or older.
The food will be forwarded to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, which is seeking donations of canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, chili and juice; dry beans, rice, corn meal, oatmeal and pasta; baking mixes and pie fillings; and boxed potatoes, dressing and gravy mix.
"It's been an outstanding year for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, from opening the Polar Frontier exhibit to welcoming 2-million visitors," executive director Dale Schmidt said. "If we can translate some of that success into more supplies for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, that would bring our year to a great close."
Columbus Parent, a free monthly published by the parent company of ThisWeek Community Newspapers, is celebrating a successful redesign and relaunch this year, editor Jane Hawes said.
"When families in Ohio and throughout the country think about Columbus, the zoo is always tops on the list," Hawes said. "And to share their success with others in need just validates the leading role they play in this community."
The zoo, at 4850 W. Powell Road, will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days. For more information, call 1-800-MONKEYS (666-5397).