Each year we attempt to visit the Wild Animal Park's Festival of Lights. It is not related to Hanukkah except that it shares the name. It's called the "Festival of Lights" because the park is lit up with light displays all over the place-- some trees, some animal shapes, some lights just dangling from branches. They build a snow hill and invite the kids to sled down it. They have craft booths set up throughout the park with activities for kids to complete. There's face painting and cooking decorating, and a night time safari bus tour.
We tried to get Casey to stop and check out the crafts, but he made a bee line for the far-away snow hill. After playing for less than 5 minutes in the small area set aside for children 4 and under, Casey insisted we get in line for sledding. He's never been. Once in line, he opted to leave for a few minutes after viewing the chocolate frostinged cookie Marcie was chomping on so that he could create his own chocolate frosting monstrosity. Then, after we were back in line he became antsy almost immediately. The wait was 40 minutes long, and we lasted about 15 minutes before he insisted we go see something else.
We meandered over to the sleeping lions and found our way to the safari bus, which we rode as part of an abbreviated tour through the heart of Africa. We saw plenty of animals-- rhinoceroses, giraffes, antelope, deer of all different kinds, water fowl, and even some bunnies. And Marcie was enthralled. She screamed in sheer joy, called out hello and good bye, and stomped her tiny feet in place in her excitement. I've never seen her so engrossed in something-- and so alert-- for such an extended period of time.
When our tour came to an end, we hopped off the bus and over to the hot chocolate line, where Jason and the kids imbibed some hot chocolate milk, and then we headed back for the van. We weren't even out of the parking lot before the kids fell asleep.
This was the third or fourth year in a row we've gone to the Animal Park's Festival of Lights, and each time we go, we're so glad we did. We hope we've established a tradition that will live on at least for a while. What a great cause-- to support animal conservation-- and all the while learning about animals and snacking on cookies and hot chocolate. Really, what more could one ask for out of the holiday season?
Oh. A good picture. That's always a bonus. And I have just the right thing:
Me and the kids as we were departing on our safari tour through the Heart of Africa.