Calgary’s holiday tradition Zoolights kicks off after June flood

The Calgary Zoo’s annual Zoolights display became a milestone for the once beleaguered attraction as the full park opened for the first time since the devastating June flood of 2013.

Trish Exton-Parder of the Calgary Zoo and staff said they are excited to reach their goal of opening in time for the annual holiday lights event.
“It’s a lot of relief and a lot of joy,” says Exton-Parder about finally reaching this point in the zoo’s recovery —a lot of sweat and tears were put into this.When you saw the way we were at the end of June, it was pretty devastating. We knew what was ahead of us and what we had to do. Now it’s happened and it’s due to some pretty heroic and committed people. I think it’s going to be better than ever.”

Despite Calgary’s recent frigid temperatures, visitors still came out to take in what has become a favourite holiday kickoff tradition, supporting the zoo in its comeback.

“(Tonight) was our last night to do it because I start finals,” says Laura Fandry, a University of Calgary student who came out with her boyfriend in minus 35 degrees Celcius weather.

“We didn’t get to take our time because it was so cold, but it was still really nice; so unique.”

The Zoolights will run nightly from Nov. 29 to Jan. 4, 2014. Gates open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Photographed by Geoff Crane

Published on Dec. 9