Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo, etc.

Friday December 11, 2015
Friday night we (my sister and her family and my husband and I) all decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather (temps in the high 60s, low 70s) and see the Zoo Lights at the Columbus Zoo. Another reason for going Friday night was to possibly attend the taping of a WBNS Channel 10 special about the Zoo Lights with Zoo Royalty, Jack Hanna.
Since taping started at 6:30pm (and was broadcast live apparently), and most of us still had to get home from work and have dinner first, none of us arrived in time to be part of the studio audience, nor did we even know which building they were using. However, none of us minded since it was just nice to be there at the zoo.
Andrew and I arrived first and texted the others about the traffic jams we ran into on the way (there's lots of construction on the main artery to the zoo), so that probably slowed down a lot of people.
Since we had purchased our tickets in advance (online), we didn't have to wait in any lines and sailed right through, which is always nice. We made our way over to the pond which had lights on the tiny islands in the middle of it as well as around the perimeter. The reflections definitely add to the beauty of the display. We ended up standing next to a barrel with a fire in it to keep visitors warm, not that lack of heat was an issue on the somewhat tropical evening. In addition to the lights, I enjoyed watching a tiny toddler bouncing up and down to the beat of the music before his mother would scoop him up and bring him closer to her before he'd get away and resume his previous position once again.
After my sister and her kids and my sister's friend and family arrived, we met up and watched the light display from a different vantage point around the pond, then walked around to see what animals were still on display (not many!). The reptile building and aquarium were still pretty full (minus the penguins), but we only saw the reptiles since there was too long a line to get into the aquarium. While in the reptile building, among other things, we saw the boa constrictor pen that reminded us all of the scene in the first Harry Potter film where Dudley Dursley ends up behind the glass with the snake.
We really liked the Tinsel Town exhibit which contained little dioramas from various Christmas themed movies and a display of character mannequins, etc. Of course there was a display from A Christmas Story and another with Star Wars characters (which were out of proportion according to Andrew since Yoda was the same size as C3PO).
Some of the animals we saw: an elephant, a sleeping (not hibernating) bear, a sleeping tiger, a red panda, and a 10 day old monkey that was a stark orangey red, in direct contrast to its grayish black parents. 
We ended up staying til around 9pm, so we definitely feel like we got our money's worth. Great weather, beautiful lights, wonderful evening!
Sunday December 13, 2015
Church Play Sunday! This weekend both the local churches near our house were having special pageants of sorts, and as they were back to back, I was able to attend them both.
The first was held at Scioto Ridge United Methodist Church and was called "Erin the Allergic Shepard," and was about a shepard allergic to her sheep (though the role was filled by a boy). It was super cute, and for children (who aren't professionals), the singing wasn't bad and not too off key. Also, about 98% off the children seemed to follow their cues (of a parent volunteer sitting in the front row miming so they could follow along). After the play the children gathered around and were read a picture book by one of the parent volunteers. The pages were displayed on a screen, but were often on the wrong page, so I soon stopped following along. I dashed out while boxes of pizza were being set out on tables in a room across the hall.
My church, St. Brendan's, was having a live manger following the 5:30pm Sunday service. Knowing I would probably have some extra time before mass, I signed up to man the Welcome Center situated on the east side of the Gathering Space. So far, both times I have done that, I have yet to have anyone approach me with any questions, but it's an easy job at least.
After mass was over, it was my job to make sure two bowls of candy got handed out to all the children. Luckily one of my fellow volunteers (and her daughter) on the Arts & Environment committee helped me out with that by taking both bowls leaving me free to man my booth. I was surprised that there was actually some candy left, and I told adults they could feel free to have a piece or two. Any leftovers will be handed out next weekend after all the Christmas services.
By the time I was done inside the church, the live manger, located under a brightly lit star in the south end of the parking lot, was completely surrounded by curious parishioners. In addition to adults playing the roles of Mary, Joseph, and the three wise men, there was also a real live baby who was the child belonging to the two adults who volunteered to be Mary and Joseph. That's dedication for you!
To the left and right of the manger were pens containing a llama, a donkey (named Shrek!), a goat, a couple sheep, some rabbits and one or two other animals I can't quite recall. I petted most of them, but none were quite as smooth as our very own kitty cat.
Inside the school cafeteria was a Christmas party with free cookies, pastries, hot chocolate and water. We also each received Matthew Kelly's latest book, Rediscover Jesus and a copy of the 2016 calendar. Since my sister and her kids were indulging in the desserts (though they had had an early dinner), I decided just to make the desserts my dinner. I very much enjoyed nibbling on my desserts while sitting on the steps to the stage having a chat with my sister and her kids.
On the way home I decided to take the long way around the neighborhood so I could see the various Christmas lights. Some people really go to a lot of trouble, and my kudos to them for making the neighborhood a more cheerful place. I suppose it's nice that not everyone does displays or the light pollution would be just phenomenal (picturing the scene from "Christmas Vacation" when the Griswolds literally blind their neighbors with the brightness of their display).

All in all, a nice weekend (due as much to the unseasonably warm weather).

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