It’s electrifying: Pueblo Zoo ElectriCritters are glowing with holiday cheer
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Cheesecake by Thomas Thomas Cosgrove started his cheesecake business to help cheer Puebloans up after their city was named the 19th worst place to live in 2017. Tracy Harmon and Zachary Allen, The Pueblo Chieftain
The Pueblo Zoo is ready to brighten the holiday season with its annual ElectriCritters display -- a family-oriented, outdoor tradition that has been a part of Puebloan's winter fun for nearly three decades. Where else can you measure the growth of your children by snapping a picture as they stand inside a glowing whale mouth year after year? With more than 100 imaginative displays illuminated by thousands of holiday lights, ElectriCritters combines a love of animals with seasonal cheer and festive holiday music. "It is a great outdoor activity to do with the family and we have no (COVID-19 pandemic-related) capacity restrictions this year like we did last year," said Abbie Krause, zoo executive director.
The event is held at the zoo, 3455 Nuckolls Ave., and includes a chance for visitors to warm up with cocoa and a cookie at its Candy Cane Cafe. Visitors can shop for presents for the animal lovers and nature defenders on their lists in the zoo's gift shop. The walk among colorfully lit pathways to view the illuminated critters is the highlight of the event.
It is a true team effort to create the display each year. "All of the critters are custom designed for the Pueblo Zoo. Our local dedicated Critter Crew thinks about what they want to do each year, then artist Richard Montano designs them and the Pueblo Community College welding students create frames for the critters as part of their training," said Abbie Krause, zoo executive director.
"We usually add two new critters every year and try to keep it quiet so people can try to guess what is new. Our Critter Crew, they keep it fresh by changing the display every year." Wildlife: Ferreting-out a new home: Endangered black-footed ferret found in Pueblo West garage
The Critter Crew is a group of volunteers and zoo staff who start in October, working five days a week for six weeks to test lights, install displays and test lights again to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. "It is a small but mighty crew and we are always looking for dedicated people to carry on the legacy," Krause said. Black Hills Energy sponsors the event, which "helps offset the cost of the electricity," Krause said. "ElectriCritters keeps us going through the winter assuring we have enough revenue to care for the (400 zoo) animals because when it gets cold we have fewer visitors."
Hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nov.
26 through Dec.
12 and daily Dec.17-23 and Dec.
26. ElectriCritters is winner of the "Best Place for Family Entertainment" in this year's Pueblo Chieftain's Best of Pueblo poll. Special events include an evening designed for guests with sensory sensitivities from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Dec.14. "This will be our second year for the sensory friendly night so there will be no music and no strobes lights. We will give our guests a little more space so it is a little less overwhelming for those who have challenges," Krause said.
A Santa Selfie Station will be available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 19, 20 and 21. Advance tickets are encouraged and can be obtained online at pueblozoo.org/electricritters. Tickets also are available at the door.
Cost is £9 for adults or £7 for children while members receive a £2 per ticket discount. Children 2 and younger are admitted free. New business: Unwind with a beer and a book at Analogue Bar in Downtown Pueblo Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news.