- by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
New to the Holiday Lights Spectacular this year are themed weekends. Friday through Sunday winter films, music and crafts will be offered. Additionally, several animal exhibits will be open nightly, photographs with Santa will be available until Dec. 23 and refreshments will be available for purchase. Turtle Back Zoo is located at 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange.
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Slideshow Photos Credit: Yuri Galanter
Photos Credit: Laura McCarthy
“We invite the public to make this Essex County holiday tradition
your family tradition," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo commented. "Turtle Back Zoo will be turned into a Winter Wonderland,
with extraordinary seasonal lighting exhibits and costumed characters.
Stroll the landscaped paths of our Zoo and
admire the illuminated images of everything from toy soldiers to penguins."
The Zoo's mascot, Myrtle the Turtle, will be on hand to greet visitors along with several of his winter friends. Photographs with Santa Claus will be available each night until Dec. 23.
Slideshow Photo Credits: Janna Smith
New to the Holiday Lights Spectacular this year are themed weekends. Popular films, holiday music, crafts and animal presentations will be offered each Friday through Sunday along with ice carving demonstrations on Saturdays. Movies will be shown continuously in the Sea Lion Sound Exhibit beginning at 5pm until closing.
The schedule for the weekend activities is as follows:
Friday, Dec. 12 to Sunday, Dec. 14
- Merry ‘Grinch’mas
- "Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
- "Mickey’s Christmas Carol"
Friday, Dec. 19 to Sunday, Dec. 21
- Welcome Winter: A ‘Frozen’ Celebration
- Princesses Elsa and Anna will be in attendance and available for photos
“Our themed weekends will make your visit to the
Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular more thrilling and exciting.
Come out and enjoy the lights, movies, demonstrations
and other winter wonderland activities,” expressed DiVincenzo.
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Slideshow Photos Credit: Kristine Schultz Blake
Visitors to the Holiday Lights Spectacular are encouraged to bring donations for the needy which will be collected at the front entrance of the Zoo. Specifically, non-perishable foods and pet foods, new unwrapped toys, and new and gently used winter coats are being requested. Last year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, about 5.5 tons of non-perishable food, 5,984 toys and 1,778 winter coats were collected for the less fortunate.
The following foods, hygiene necessities and household supplies are currently in demand at local assistance groups:
- Jars and Cans:
- Pasta meals
- Peanut butter
- Tomato Sauce
- Tuna and other fish
- Boxes and Bags
- Beans-all kinds
- Dry soup mix
- Macaroni and cheese
- Combs, Hair Brushes
- Diapers - Baby and Adult
- Feminine Pads / Tampons
- Paper Towels
- Toilet paper
“We are offering free admission
to make this exciting attraction available to everyone” DiVincenzo noted.
"We also are encouraging our visitors to bring non-perishable food items,
non-perishable pet food, new unwrapped toys
and new and gently used winter coats to help our families in need."
Turtle Back Zoo
Acting Director Brint Spencer
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
- 10am to 3:30pm
- Seven days a week
- Park remains open for a half hour after last admission
- Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day
($9 Dec .1 through Mar. 31)
($7 Dec .1 through Mar. 31)
Children and seniors (62+)
Children under 2 years
Turtle Back Zoo is committed to providing an enriching recreational experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation. Formed in 1962 on a 15.5 acre section of the county’s South Mountain Reservation, the Zoo was designed by Tjark Reiss who created the exhibits based on Hans Christian Anderson’s nursery rhyme themes. The zoo opened on June 3, 1963 with a collection of 140 animals of 40 species and by ten years later the zoo’s animal collection had grown to 850 animals of 275 species. Since taking office in 2003, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $70 million in upgrades to the zoo. In September 2006, Turtle Back Zoo was granted accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. This distinct honor places Turtle Back Zoo among the elite zoos and aquaria of the United States and means that the zoo adheres to the highest standards for zoos in the country.