Holiday Lights

At Brookfield Zoo just outside of Chicago, the zoo has an event called Holiday Magic where the zoo becomes filled with Christmas lights.  This event is advertised as Chicago land’s largest light show with over one million lights, ice carvings, and Santa and Mrs. Claus.  I went to this event with my family last December and I finally realized that all of these lights and other extra activities are a distraction from the animals themselves.

As you walk around all of these extra activities distract the guests from the actual exhibits.  When I was there I remember walking past the ice carving stage where a man had a chainsaw and was making a sculpture out of a block of ice.  My family and I stopped for a moment to check out what was going because how often do you get to see someone making an ice sculpture.  As we stopped more and more people started crowding around the stage to see this happening.  I looked around and started to get restless because we are at a zoo and I wanted to see my favorite animals, but everyone was too involved in the ice sculpture.  After about a half and hour of watching we finally moved on to go see the animals.

As you move from exhibit to exhibit every walkway and open patch of grass has some sort decorative lights to capture the guests eyes.  The even have a section where you can decorate a Christmas tree.  While walking my cousin, who is four years old, wanted to stop and look at every light and your not going to say no to a four old in that situation.  Everytime we stopped I couldn’t help but to think about all the exhibit we are missing out on.  Since we went at night to see the lights we were on a time crunch for some exhibits because of their closing times.  Needless to say we missed out on most of the indoor exhibits because of their closing times.

This event at the zoo is a great family experience and I highly recommend going if your ever in that area during the holiday season.  It is sort of magical to see the holiday spirit fill up the zoo, but be attentive to how much time you spend looking at all of the lights and colors because it could take away from the actual zoo experience itself.


5 thoughts on “Holiday Lights

  1. I have actually been to the same event and I could not agree with you more. I also went with family and though most of the young children seemed to enjoy the lights, I did not like it at all. I realize that it was cold but I was expecting much more of the animals to be out and for there to be much more interaction or activities with the workers at the zoo. Instead, there was no animals out and we walked around for so long just staring at the Christmas lights blinking in unison, which got pretty annoying. There was thousands of kids running around crying, so maybe it was just not my thing, but I still feel like more effort could have gone into it. I definitely recommend going to the zoo when it is warmer and the animals are actually out. It’s a much better experience in all aspects.

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  2. I wonder how many years this event has been happening at the zoo? It seems like it might be a good way to draw people in during the holidays although I can understand your disappointment with it shifting people’s attention away from the animals. I wonder why the zoo specifically chose a light display instead of something a little more animal themed. I could understand the reasoning if the lights were somehow animal themed (similar to santa lights) but it seems strange that they would do something so random.
    It reminds me of an event that the Minneapolis Institute of Art puts on every year called Art in Bloom. Floral arrangements are created to interpret certain pieces of art. I like that in this case they specifically work with the art instead of detracting from it. I’m sure that the zoo is using this as a way to bring more visitors during the holidays, but it would be nice if it related to their content in some way.

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  3. This event is like one of those ideas that sound good on paper but when actually practiced it could really upset or even hurt people. The idea of visiting a zoo at night sounds very exciting and even more so being in the big city, but I could not agree more with how much of a distraction a light is in a dark place. Although you could say that we are all like over grown four year olds that get easily distracted by pretty lights, when the true beauty of nature is just beyond that light. It is sad to think how the lights take the focus off the real reason that people go to zoo’s, but if you think about it some one is sure making a lot of money off those lights so they aren’t going to stop the tradition even though it might be harmful to the animals of the zoo.


  4. I like how you decided to discuss an alternative to a typical museum and yet something that fell into the realm of museums as well. I think that plays a big role in your experience at the holiday light show. As much as you personally love zoos, I think a strong argument can be made that their target audience is families with young children. At the MoMa, toddlers would be less ample. Furthering that thought, for the holiday light show specifically, most zoo goers would probably be there for the lights. So although your personal experience was not ideal, I think it is important to consider where you are and what is going and in the end, it sounds like the show was geared towards kids and pretty lights. Broadening this thought, I wonder how museums in general make people feel uncomfortable or welcomed based off of their content, goal, and audience.


  5. The light show sounds fairly fun although from reading this it does not seem that the lights and the animal exhibits are not very cohesive which makes me wonder what it would be like if they were more cohesive. Are there ways that you can think of that would make this light show a better experience that has a great light show while also not taking too much away from the animals? Reading this made me curious of how I would feel about it if I were to go to see the light show myself. I also feel like your suggestion to be aware of how much time one spends at one display or another is very helpful for those are thinking about going to the show. It is a good thing to keep in mind.


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