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Published: Thursday, 12/30/2010

Zoo's Lights Before Christmas to have a January reprise

If you didn't make it to the Toledo Zoo's famed Lights Before Christmas display over the holidays, there's still another chance.

The million-plus-light extravaganza will become an after-Christmas event with a special "Encore Presentation" on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. It will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Normally the display ends Dec. 31, but the zoo is holding the encore to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Lights Before Christmas, events coordinator Jen Brassil said. In addition, it gives those with busy holiday schedules an extra chance to see the display, she said.

"I think people, because of the weather and holidays, can't always make it to the zoo," Ms. Brassil said. "This kind of gives everybody one last opportunity -- even though it's after Christmas -- to squeeze it in."

Zoo spokesman Eric Klinger said more than 113,000 people have attended Lights Before Christmas since it began Nov. 19, although the numbers are slightly down from last year.

"That's mostly due, we're pretty sure, to the cold weather. It was very cold, and that tends to keep people away," Mr. Klinger said.

The display features more than one million lights, more than 200 lighted animal images, and an 85-foot Norway spruce adorned with 35,000 energy-saving LED lights.

There are several new features this year, including lighted crystal bears to celebrate the birth of Siku the polar bear and "Pedal Power" light displays where visitors can use their own energy from bicycling to light holiday trees.

The annual "Dancing Lights" display features holiday music selected by zoo visitors earlier in the year. There is also a Swanton Area Railroad model trains exhibit in the zoo's Museum of Science.

Mr. Klinger said the event is a major feat for the zoo and requires weeks of preparation.

"The entire zoo is transformed for this," Mr. Klinger said. "All of a sudden, to see just all of the lights come on at once, it's amazing."

Admission to the Lights Before Christmas is $11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-11 and seniors age 60 and older, and free for children under age 2.

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at: cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.

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