Lights, conifers, action at Cosley Zoo

  • Megan, Elle, Emme and Ernie Mcbrearty of Bartlett take in the twinkling lights at the Cosley Zoo's on Friday. Ernie dressed as Santa for the event, while 10-year-old Emme portrayed one of his helpers.

      Megan, Elle, Emme and Ernie Mcbrearty of Bartlett take in the twinkling lights at the Cosley Zoo's on Friday. Ernie dressed as Santa for the event, while 10-year-old Emme portrayed one of his helpers. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Jim Vieregg and his granddaughter Lydia Vieregg, 4, of Wheaton load a Douglas fir in their cart Friday at the Cosley Zoo tree farm in Wheaton.

      Jim Vieregg and his granddaughter Lydia Vieregg, 4, of Wheaton load a Douglas fir in their cart Friday at the Cosley Zoo tree farm in Wheaton. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Ashton Fitzgerald of Naperville cuts the stump of a Douglas fir, which will be the Christmas tree for the Wahrman family of Carol Stream, on Friday at the Cosley Zoo tree farm in Wheaton.

      Ashton Fitzgerald of Naperville cuts the stump of a Douglas fir, which will be the Christmas tree for the Wahrman family of Carol Stream, on Friday at the Cosley Zoo tree farm in Wheaton. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/28/2020 3:39 AM

What started out 37 years ago as "simple lights on a caboose" and "a handful of farm animals" has blossomed into a holiday spectacular at Cosley Zoo.

The Festival of Lights and accompanying tree sale opened Friday evening at the Wheaton zoo.

 

"Over 200 animals cover the grounds surrounded by the light show, which creates a nice, small, cozy experience for the family." said zoo Director Susan Wahlgren

More than 16,000 people will walk the grounds this holiday season and visit the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

There was no snow on the ground Friday evening, but the zoo still felt like a magical winter wonderland, especially for Ernie Mcbrearty and his daughter Emme, 10, who dressed up as Santa and one of his elves.

"So far so good," Santa Ernie said. "We're having a great time."

Emme agreed.

"The best part was spending time with my family," she said.

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