COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Wildlights attraction kicked off Thursday night with a special appreciation event for zoo members.
The annual holiday event, which officially starts on Friday, Nov. 18, drew big crowds. Wildlights allows visitors to check out the animals during the day and see dazzling displays after dark.
The event runs from 5pm to 9pm Sundays through Thursdays and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays through January 1, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The newest attraction this year is the Sparkling Spruce, a tree more than 40 feet tall.
“Fourteen thousand [lights] on that tree and it’s a really cool show, one of the best new additions here at Wildlights,” said Alec McWilliams, experiential logistics coordinator for the zoo.
McWilliams said there are about three million lights in the display total and that setup began in early September.
Admission for the event costs $14.99 for adults who live in Franklin County and $19.99 for adults outside Franklin County.
Visitors can get in for free on Friday, Nov. 18 if they donate food for the hungry as part of a “Stuff-The-Truck” event.
“We partner with Kroger and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, where if you bring five cans of canned, nonperishable items, you get an admission ticket for free,” McWilliams said. “Last year, we collected about 76,000 pounds of food, which is great, so we’re hoping to do that again this year.”