Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wildlife in Wild Lights

Someone told me
It's all happening at the zoo.
I do believe it,
I do believe it's true.

In Phoenix's case, the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel's "At the Zoo" could apply to the 18th annual "ZooLights," the amazing holiday display of lights at the Phoenix Zoo.
(We arrived in Las Cruces, NM, late this morning, but we thought this photo-graphic return to Phoenix would be timely. We will then resume coverage of our travels through the Deming, NM, area. Confused?)

For about six weeks, beginning late November and continuing through early January, the zoo is open nightly, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., to visitors.

As 6:00 p.m. approached, the lines had grown to considerable lengths. But once ticket sales began, the lines moved surprisingly quickly.

In mid-August, a four-person crew will spend about 12 weeks installing some 3.5 million lights and about 600 animal light sculptures.

We joined cousin Raina and her husband Jesse on this evening. Jesse and I wondered how many lights were used to decorate one tree. I think the printed information about the displays stated that this tree alone had 30,000 lights on it.

All visitors were given "glasses" that created even more colorful--though distorted--images. Taking a photo of the blue tree through these glasses produced this image.

Given the beauty of the displays themselves, we quickly decided to abandon the glasses.

A full-time zoo staff build about 50 new light sculptures in the metal shop each year. After each one is formed in metal, clips are attached and lights are added.

Unlike the drive-through Christmas light displays, the zoo's light display is to be enjoyed on a leisurely walk.

Fortunately for the three of us, Raina had attended ZooLights in earlier years, so our walk through the displays was completed effectively without the need for a map.

There was entertain-ment for kids, and music was playing throughout our walk through the displays.

Surprisingly enough, I had no difficulty setting up my tripod to take these photos without interfering with traffic flow.

The large splashes color were balanced by the individual animal forms. We were overwhelmed with the rush of color one moment and then caught up with the individual stars in the trees or the animals "hidden" under bushes.

The absence of snow diminished the feel of winter a bit, but it was outweighed by the opportunity to spend a longer time walking around the displays.

An estimated 250,000 people attend ZooLights each year, and we can certainly understand an annual visit to this winter wonderland.

We will continue our walk tomorrow.

1 comment:

Don said...

Chuck and Kate,

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. Enjoy your daily write ups and pictures as you travel across the country. Looking forward to a series of books on your travels.

Don and Jan