“2018-2019 Wintertime, Christmastime Events at the Brookfield Zoo” by S.M. O’Connor

Upcoming 2018-2019 wintertime and Christmastime events at the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois include the Chicago Wolves Skating Rink, the Community and Corporate Tree Trim Weekend, the Brookfield Zoo Reindeer Run, Lights & Lagers, and Holiday Magic.  The Chicago Zoological Society is a private, non-profit organization that operates the Brookfield Zoo on property that belongs to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

The Chicago Wolves Skating Rink

The new Chicago Wolves Skating Rink will be in operation on the East Mall daily from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from November 3, 2018 through January 31, 2019.  During so-called “Holiday Magic” hours, it will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The outdoor ice skating rink uses a synthetic material known as Glice® instead of ice.  The Brookfield Zoo is one of only three American zoos to have Glice® skating rinks.  Skaters will each pay $7.  Those who need to borrow ice skates will pay an additional $5 to rent them.  The rink is presented by the Chicago Wolves, a professional ice hockey team of the Central Division of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference that plays hockey at Allstate Arena in the northwestern suburb of Rosemont, Illinois and a minor league affiliate of the N.H.L.’s Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Community and Corporate Tree Trim Weekend

The Community Tree Trim will be on the weekend of Saturday, November 17, 2018 and Sunday, November 18, 2018.  This is Tree Trim Weekend at Brookfield Zoo.  It is presented by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and sponsored by Target.  Sponsoring a Christmas tree is a way to support Brookfield Zoo and celebrate the thirty-seventh annual Holiday Magic.  Assemble a group, make Christmas tree ornaments, and come to Brookfield Zoo on November 17th or 18th.  Click here to purchase a Community Tree or Corporate Tree.

For $160, a 2018 Community Tree Package includes one fully-lit tree, twenty complimentary General Admission Passes, five complimentary Parking Passes, and a sign detailing the town name and group donating/decorating the tree.  Additional non-refundable Tree Trim passes are available at a discounted rate of $10 each.  These tickets are valid for adults, children, and senior citizens, but they are valid exclusively on Tree Trim Weekend.  Additional non-refundable parking passes are available at a discounted rate of $14 each.

For $500, a 2018 Corporate Tree Package includes one fully-lit tree, thirty complimentary General Admission Passes, ten complimentary Parking Passes, and a sign detailing the town name and group donating/decorating the tree.  Additional Tree Trim passes are available at a discounted rate of $10 each.  The Corporate Tree Trim will take place in the vicinity of Roosevelt Fountain.  Click here for the Corporate Tree Trim Info Sheet.

A 2018 Tree Trim Patch is $4 and can be picked up at the Wildlife Trading Post from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Shipping is available.  Call (708) 688-8638.

Click here for Brookfield Zoo’s Community and Corporate Tree Decoration Guidelines.  If a community or corporate group would like to keep Christmas tree ornaments, one can remove them on January 1-19, 2019 during regular zoo hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).  Ornaments left on trees after January 19, 2019 will not be saved.

The tree Trim will happen regardless of whether the sun is shining, there is a rainstorm, or there is a snowstorm, so dress appropriately.  All indoor exhibits and other buildings will remain open during Tree Trim Weekend.  If you have a question, click here for the F.A.Q. page or e-mail Tree.Trim@CZS.org.

The Brookfield Zoo Reindeer Run

The Brookfield Zoo Reindeer Run will be Saturday, November 24, 2018.  It is sponsored by Revolution Brewing.  Click here to register for the Brookfield Zoo Reindeer Run.  Grab a glow stick and running shoes for the inaugural Reindeer Run one a two-mile-long course within the boundaries of Brookfield Zoo, and your family can have a fun run under the lights.  This is chance to be first to see the light of Holiday Magic.  Then stick around for music, drinks, food, and animal ambassadors.  Registered Reindeer Runners twenty-one-years-of-age and over will receive a complimentary beverage from Revolution Brewing.  Capacity is limited, so the sooner one registers the better.

The start time is 7:00 p.m.  The Race Fee is $25 and the Sign-Up Fee is $2.50.  One can enter Brookfield Zoo any time after 5:30 p.m. on November 24th.  One must enter through the North Gate Parking Lot and park in the North Gate Parking Lot.  Once one has parked, one must enter Brookfield Zoo, check-in at the North Gate Entrance and receive one’s commemorate hat, and proceed to the Pavilions.  Please note that one cannot park at the South gate Entrance for this event.  From 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the Carousel and Pavilions will be open with music, food, and drinks for purchase.  Animal ambassadors will be present at 6:00 p.m.  The Reindeer Run will begin at 7:00 p.m.  The animal ambassadors will be present again at 7:30 p.m.

The Reindeer Run is a non-competitive fun run and runners will not be timed.  Runners of all ages are welcome.  Animal buildings will be closed.  Prizes will not be awarded.  All runners or walkers will need to register.  Spectators are welcome, but will have limited access to Brookfield Zoo (North Mall only – the Start/Finish Lines, Pavilions, and Carousel Plaza) during the run and will not have access to the zoo after the race.   If a family would like a more leisurely stroll through Brookfield Zoo to see the lights, visit during one of the regularly scheduled Holiday Magic nights on December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, and 26-31.

Lights & Lagers at Brookfield Zoo

Lights & Lagers at Brookfield Zoo on Friday, November 30, 2018 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  There will be three-ounce samplings from participating breweries, a commemorative drinking glass, music, animal ambassadors, and a sneak peek at Holiday Magic lights.  Tickets are $45 for non-members and $35 for members.  Click here to purchase tickets through Eventbrite on the Chicago Zoological Society’s Website.  Click here to purchase tickets through the Eventbrite Website.  Tickets are transferrable, but are non-refundable.  All attendees must be adults twenty-one-years-of-age and over.  While a General Admission ticket for Lights & Lagers is $45, a Designated Driver ticket for Lights & Lagers is $35.  This event will take place regardless of the weather, so dress appropriately.  A ticket covers parking at the North Gate Parking Lot.  If one has a question, one should e-mail marketingteam@czs.org.  The address is 8400 West 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

Holiday Magic

The thirty-seventh annual Holiday Magic will be zoo-wide December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, and 26-31, 2018.  ComEd® and Meijer® are presenting Holiday Lights.  Metro™ by T-Mobile is presenting the Holly Jolly Theater.

A Note on the Brookfield Zoo

Founded in 1920 and chartered in 1921, the Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) brought to life the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) to give Chicago a zoo without bars modeled on the Tierpark Hagenbeck, known in English as the Hagenbeck Animal Park, a privately-owned zoo in Hamburg founded in 1907 by Carl Hagenback, Jr. (1844-1913).  In December of 1919, Edith Rockefeller McCormick – the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and wife of Cyrus McCormick’s youngest son Harold Fowler McCormick (1872-1941) – donated eighty-three acres of land to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to be the site of a modern zoo, to which the Forest Preserve District added ninety-eight acres.[1]     Charles L. Hutchinson (1854-1924), the President of The Art Institute of Chicago, recruited Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist and correspondent John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) to become the first president of the C.Z.S.  McCutcheon attributed this decision to the book In Africa he had written after he participated in the 1909 Carl Akeley (1864-1926) expedition for The Field Museum of Natural History.[2]  The zoo opened to the public on July 1, 1934. [3]   The expectation had been that about 33,000 people would attend, but about 58,000 people turned out.[4]

DSCN1800Figure 1 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the South Gate, as seen on July 9, 2011.


The North Gate Main Entrance is at 1st Avenue and 31st Street.  The address is 8400 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The South Gate Main Entrance address is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The Website is https://www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Home.



[1] Andrea Friederici Ross, Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo. Chicago: Chicago Zoological Society (1997), p. 2

[2] John T. McCutcheon, Drawn from Memory: The Autobiography of John T. McCutcheon.  Indianapolis and New York City: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1950), p. 422

[3] Ross, p. 34

[4] Ross, p. 40

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