Thirty years ago I was a volunteer Docent at the Denver Zoo. In a fit of nostalgia I decided to help out with the brand new winter event The Denver Zoo had started called ‘Wild Lights’. I was recalling that for Flanders Music Thanksgiving late afternoon was the time we decorated the store for Christmas. I wanted to rekindle an old spirit so I agreed to stand outside of the giraffe house and say “Happy Holidays” to people as they walked by.
That first year at the Zoo we had a couple hundred folks come through. Each year the crowds grew until thousands wanted to see the Zoo lite up. Each year I volunteered for more and more nights. Finally I was there pretty much the whole month of December. The Marketing department approached me and said, ‘hey, you are here all of the time, would you like to earn a few bucks and be in charge of running the event?’ For five years I managed Wild Lights in Denver. I loved it. [Our son Michael used to say, ‘Just give my Dad a little time and he will figure out how to be in charge.’]
I noticed that the volunteer Santa was wearing out and becoming a little too formal. Michael guessed it, I became the most talked about Santa in the Wild Lights history. I talked with kids, I talked with Moms. I never asked, “And what would you like for Christmas?” I did ask each kid, “And what have you done to put a smile on your parents’ face?” It was not unusual to have the entire line erupt in applause, after I loudly proclaimed: “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
On the second night of a Holiday ‘Starry Lights’ at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House close to our Michigan home, I wanted to experience a walk down memory lane so I talked Denise into going through the grounds lit for the Holidays. Effects are more complex and the syncing with music is fun. And, it is still bright colored lights on a cold evening.
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