Zoolights at about 6:30 during their FONZ members week. Normally, the Zoolights are free, but require a $20 parking fee, and $10 fee for members. However, this week they were giving out free parking to members as well as free tickets for the carousel and the zoo tubing. The lights basically stretch from the visit center (where you can find a train set exhibit and lion themed gingerbread houses) all the way to the kids farm along Olmstead Walk. Not many outside animals are actually visible, but several of the houses along the way (small mammal, great apes, and invertebrates) are open for the night. And the lights were awesome. We especially loved to stop and watch the lights dance to the music shows by the lions exhibit and further along past the elephant trail. Theo liked naming all the animals he found in the lights, Eli seemed in awe of everything, and I really liked getting to actually ride the carousel since Brian was with us for once to spot the kids. Unfortunately, we were not watching the time and did not get the $3 a person train ride in down by the kids farm. We got there in time to see the last run, and had a pretty upset three year old again. But, we promised he would get a chance to ride a real train soon.
We kept up that promise by taking the metro into the city for the National Christmas Tree Lighting. We just barely caught the train we needed (literally walked right up, boarded, and it left). Theo was so excited, and kept telling everyone he knows all about trains. He kept asking about the people in the other "coaches" and checking the map. It was the highlight of his night. Once we arrived, we still had a bit of a hike and had to go through the security process (I wish people would actually read about the restricted items so it went quicker). I was very worried we would lose our seats (we actually had seated tickets, we were very lucky in the ticket lottery) if we weren't in them by 4:30, but we got there by about 4:40 and were able to find empty rows in the back section. We could have brought a stroller and sat by an aisle, but I had decided to wear Eli instead and it was probably good because all the rain made for a bit of a muddy walk.
|Eli's first subway ride (I think?)|
After being in the sixties and sunny all week, Friday was full of a light rain all day long. I was just thankful it was a light rain. We settled in and enjoyed the pre-show music and were excited for the show to commence. By the time the tree was lit by the first family just after 5, Theo was sleeping soundly on my lap. That kid can just sleep anywhere. Eli did well snacking throughout the show, and somehow even with a pre-schooler sleeping on my lap, and a toddler on Brian's, it felt like a date from back in our pre-kids day. Perhaps just the adventure of doing something new and the craziness of sitting in the rain to do it. Brian remarked that we missed out on chilly, rainy football seasons since we went to college in AZ, and that games would have been more like this. We enjoyed Mrs. Obama reading the Night Before Christmas with Abby from Sesame Street (this show is such a huge, unexpected part of my life) and Christmas music song by Aretha Franklin and James Taylor among others, but left about twenty minutes too early when the kids were getting too cold. Theo, who always awakens from naps like a bear, cried loudly that he was so cold as we left the grounds of the Ellipse. However, a quick stop into a Cosi for a nice hot chocolate and cookie saved the day, and he was just as excited for his metro ride back home. All in all, I was very nervous about getting there through the crowds and regular traffic with two kids, but the metro was not crowded and we had a good time. Even in the rain.
You can watch the ceremony here if you have any interest in it. I don't think we made it into any camera shots. And we just couldn't get photos with the rain and our hands full.
But we'll be headed back down that way sometime in the next weeks to get a better look at all the state trees and maybe even visit Santa if we haven't run into him at a holiday party... see Christmas Part 2 coming up.