Zoo Nights and Lights returns to the Gladys Porter Zoo this weekend, offering the chance to see the zoo all decked out for the holidays and at the same time support the zoo and the Toys for Tots campaign.
The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $2.50 per person or the donation of an unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots.
Toys for Tots volunteers and several uniformed U.S. Marines, will be at the zoo’s main entrance to accept toy donations.
The main attraction will be a gingerbread man decoration station for which H-E-B is providing 3,000 gingerbread men to be decorated. Santa Claus will also be on hand.
“We try to keep the admission cost low so that it’s a chance to treat the whole family to a great community event,” zoo spokesman Charlie Abrego said. “The flamingos will be out and some of the monkeys on Monkey Island. The front half of the zoo will be designated as Zoo Nights and Lights and lit up with luminarias.”
Choirs from several Brownsville schools and organizations will perform Christmas music during the event.
Hot chocolate and other food items will be available for purchase, as will arts and crafts in the special events building.
Zoo Nights and Lights has been going on for more than 20 years, Abrego said. It is a fundraiser for the zoo and a main venue for Toys for Tots donations. A drop-off location for toy donations will be available for several more weeks at the zoo’s main entrance.
On Wednesday zoo personnel were busy preparing for the event. Ten live Christmas trees were being put up and decorated. All of the lighted fixtures for the event were done in-house by the maintenance department.
Metro by T Mobile, McDonald’s and Digital 101.5 are the main sponsors for this year’s event.
Across Ringgold Street from the zoo, Brownsville’s annual Holiday Village display of miniature Christmas cottages is taking place in Dean Porter Park. The free display makes a great combination with Zoo Nights and Lights, Abrego said.