“How is the Brookfield Zoo Celebrating Christmas in 2019?” by S.M. O’Connor

      The Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) has a number of upcoming special events for Advent, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve at the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois.  The Chicago Wolves Skating Rink is open through January of 2020.   The C.Z.S. will host the second annual Reindeer Run at Brookfield Zoo on Friday, November 29, 2019. The thirty-eighth annual Holiday Magic light festival will be held over the Advent weekends of November 30th and December 1st, December 7th and 8th, December 14th and 15th, and December 21st and 22nd, as well as during Christmastime from the 26th through the 31st of December. Lights & Lagers at Brookfield Zoo will take place on Friday, December 6, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  Children can meet and have their pictures taken with the (costumed character) Nature Cat, the hero of Nature Cat, the popular P.B.S. Kids cartoon series (which airs locally on W.T.T.W.), at the Hamill Family Play Zoo on Saturday, December 7, 2019.  The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago™ is the sponsor of two meals with Santa Claus.  Please note that “Breakfast with Santa Featuring The Banjo Buddies” is sold out.  Tickets are still available for “Santa’s Holiday Jazz Brunch” with the Ann Stewart Jazz trio, which is new this year.  There will be two brunches held with two seatings each (for a total of four meals) on the third and fourth Sundays in December in the Discovery Center.

      Guests at the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois can bring their own ice skates to the Chicago Wolves Skating Rink on the East Mall or rent ice skates there.   It is open daily from noon to 4:30 p.m. through January of 2020.  Admission is $7.  There is a $5 fee to rent skates. Please note the number of ice skates available to rent is limited.  Also, one must pay with a credit card to rent skates. 

Figure 1 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Admission to the Chicago Wolves Skating Rink is $7.  There is a $5 fee to rent skates. Please note the number of ice skates available to rent is limited.  Also, one must pay with a credit card to rent skates.

        The C.Z.S. will host the second annual Reindeer Run at Brookfield Zoo on Friday, November 29, 2019. Participants can either “fun run” or walk the two-mile-long course, which is entirely within the grounds of Brookfield Zoo, and will be illuminated by 1,000,000 LED lights for Holiday Magic.  Afterwards, stay for the music, food, drinks, and Animal Ambassadors. Tickets are $27 ($22 for Members). 

Figure 2 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Participants in the first Reindeer Run pose with Rudolph at Brookfield Zoo on November 24, 2018.

      The thirty-eighth annual Holiday Magic light festival, presented by ComEd and Meijer, features over 1,000,000 L.E.D. (light-emitting diode) lights illuminating the zoo grounds.  During the Holiday Magic light festival, the Brookfield Zoo will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Guests can arrive early to enjoy the whole zoo and stay late for the festivities that begin daily at 4:00 p.m. 

       On the final evening of Holiday Magic, Tuesday, December 31, 2019 (New Year’s Eve), families can ring in 2020 at the Zoo Year’s Eve celebration, which will feature a family-friendly early countdown at 8:00 p.m.  A D.J. will set the tone of the party with games, party favors, and prizes in the Holly Jolly Theater.  An even earlier countdown will start at 7:30 p.m. inside the Hamill Family Play Zoo, where children will be able to make festive noisemakers.  This child-friendly countdown is for families with children ages six-and-under.

Figure 3 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: A life-size bison statue greets guests at the South Gate entrance to Brookfield Zoo during its annual Holiday Magic.

Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: For Holiday Magic, over 1,000,000 L.E.D. lights illuminate the grounds of Brookfield Zoo.

      For Holiday Magic, visitors should use the North Gate parking lot on 31st Street.  Regular admission is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages three-to-eleven and senior citizens sixty-five-and-over.  Children two and under – so infants and toddlers – are free.  The activities are free with paid admission (with the exception of in-park paid attractions, photo opportunities, and cupcake-decorating).  There is a $14 fee to park a car costs and $20 to park a bus.  Discounted tickets may be purchased at any of the Meijer locations in Chicagoland (within Illinois).  Groups of twenty or more may purchase discounted tickets by going to www.CZS.org/GroupSales or calling (708) 688-8431.  For more information, and a complete schedule of Holiday Magic activities and entertainment, visit www.CZS.org/HolidayMagic or call (708) 688-8000.

      Lights & Lagers at Brookfield Zoo will take place on Friday, December 6, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  This is chance for full adults (twenty-one years of age and older) to walk around the Brookfield Zoo grounds when they are illuminated by over 1,000,0000 L.E.D. lights for the 38th annual Holiday Magic festival while sampling beers, listening to music a D.J. plays in the Holly Jolly Theater, and seeing Animal Ambassadors up close. 

Figure 4 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Zoo guests gather to enjoy Lights and Lagers at Brookfield Zoo on November 30, 2018.

      For the first time this year, the C.Z.S. will be hosting “Santa’s Holiday Jazz Brunch” with the Ann Stewart Jazz trio.  There will be two brunches held with two seatings each (for a total of four meals) on Sunday, December 15, 2019 and Sunday, December 22, 2019 in the Discovery Center. The C.Z.S. bills the meal as “a delectable all-you-can-eat holiday brunch buffet.”  Families can take pictures with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and zoo costumed characters.  Tickets are $44.95 for adults (and teenagers) and $31.95 for children (ages three-to-eleven).  Babies (infants and toddlers) under three are free.

Figure 5 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Santa’s Holiday Jazz brunch with the Ann Stewart Jazz Trio will be held on Sunday, December 15, 2019 and Sunday, December 22, 2019 with two seatings on each day.

       As mentioned above, Breakfast with Santa Featuring The Banjo Buddies, is sold out.  TheAnn & Robert H. LurieChildren’s Hospital of Chicago™ is also the sponsor for the Breakfasts with Santa.  

Figure 6 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Breakfast with Santa Featuring The Banjo Buddies will be held on the 7th, 8th, and 14th of December, but has sold out.

      The Chicago Zoological Society is a private, non-profit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.  Founded in 1920 and chartered in 1921, the Chicago Zoological Society 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).  The Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934, during the second year of Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34). 

      The C.Z.S. is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The Brookfield Zoo met the American Humane Association’s rigorous standards for the care and welfare of animals to become the world’s first zoo to receive Humane Certified™ certification.

      The Brookfield Zoo is open every day of the year.  It is located between the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) and is also accessible via the TriState Tollway (I-294).  The North Gate Main Entrance address is 8400 West 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The South Gate Main Entrance address is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  A train station, the Hollywood (Zoo Stop) on Metra’s B.N.S.F. line, is a few blocks to the south of the South Gate entrance.  The phone number is (708) 688-8000.  The Website is www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Home.

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