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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Indianapolis Zoo kicks off 'Christmas at the Zoo'

The fun and safe tradition is adding some holiday cheer to a tough year.

INDIANAPOLIS — Even though several holiday events in central Indiana and across the country have been cancelled because of the pandemic, others have adjusted to keep Hoosiers in the holiday spirit.  

Saturday night, the Indianapolis Zoo kicked off its 52nd annual “Christmas at the Zoo.” This year, they added more lights and nights. The fun and safe tradition is adding some holiday cheer to a tough year.  

“This is the 52nd year for 'Christmas at the Zoo.' It’s the first zoo in the country to have a light display and now we are in the running for the best light display in the country,” said Judy Palermo, director of public relations at the zoo.

The light display has become an Indy family tradition.  

“We try to come every year. We love the zoo and the lights are beautiful,” said visitor Natalie Walls, who brought her family. 

To keep everyone safe this year, the zoo made some changes. All guests are required to buy tickets in advance to help manage the crowds and help with social distancing. Everyone needs a face mask to enter the zoo. Some of the exhibits are rearranged to help separate the number of people inside.  

Despite the changes, a lot of the activities are still around, like interacting with the winter animals, Santa’s Village, walking through the tunnel of lights, seeing the reindeer and the best one of all, visiting with Santa.  

Credit: Lauren Kostiuk/WTHR
Tunnel of Lights at the Indianapolis Zoo Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

“We always have to see Santa. We weren’t sure if we would be able to see him this year so we are excited he is here, and we can see him at a distance,” said Walls.  

This year, Santa will be sitting behind his desk in his study, but you can still take a photo with him and share your Christmas list. Also, Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen will have cookie decorating kits this year. 

On Saturdays, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will perform holiday carols.  

Festivities run Nov. 21 through Dec. 30. The zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day.  

The lights display is in the running for USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights. You can vote here.