When my roommate invited me to attend ZooLights with her and a group of young mentees, I was about as excited as any adult preparing to attend an outdoor event in 30 degree weather full of young, eager children could be. But in comparison to my evening plans of Parks and Recreation bingeing in my undies it seemed more productive, so I decided to go.
I’m pretty sure I ended up enjoying myself more than the children.
Here’s the thing. I forgot how much I used to love all things Christmas. Years ago, my mom and I went pretty hard in the paint about getting in the spirit. We had singing lights on 6′ Christmas trees, tinsel and construction paper snowflakes on every window, candy canes and hot chocolate galore, and of course, we watched every single broadcast of A Diva’s Christmas Carol.
We also used to drive through the
rich neighborhoods and gawk at the grand décor block by block. I have this perfect cinemaesque memory of walking up to this house completely decked out in Mickey & Minnie Mouse décor. I was so excited I ran right onto the yard and began squealing in girl-child glee. Just as my mother began to chastise me, the homeowner – a small, older, white woman – came out and laughed in approval, encouraging us to check out the other side of the house. I feel like my time at ZooLights brought out that same young excitement. I was finally full of Christmas spirit again, except this time with tigers and bourbon apple cider instead of Mickey Mouse and mom.
The animal exhibits are all open to the public during this event (get there early if you want to catch the monkeys and tigers before bedtime). There’s also ice skating, a singing Christmas tree light show, fun 3D glasses, and a ton of things to eat.
If you’re looking to bring out your inner child, or treat your actual children to some similar squeal-worthy folly, head to Lincoln Park Zoo!