OK, so I’ve already mentioned what a geek I am about Christmas lights. L-O-V-E them. So you’d think, after 9 winters in Phoenix, I would have made it to Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo before now. Alas, I did not. I even placed an ad on Craigslist to find someone to go with me this season … and while I’ve had about 75 responses, for a variety of reasons – but mostly scheduling challenges – none has, as of yet, turned into a date to Zoo Lights.

So I finally wound up going tonight with  my eccentric next door neighbor. He’s been wanting to go for a long time, too – he was actually the one who put the idea in my head to post to CL to try to find someone to go with because he was away visiting his family in Las Vegas over the holidays.

All I can say is it was well worth the wait! Amazing to look at, and stroll through. They were still playing Christmas carols, which, in this case was a very nice thing. And although it was great fun to walk through with a neighborly buddy, I have to tell you, I can scarcely think of anything that would make a nicer (i.e., more romantic) first, second, or third date. Delightful, enchanting, intoxicating … none of those words overstates the experience.

While the moon makes for a very cool effect, the glare somewhat diminishes the amazing result of this all-blue tree.

My only disappointment was that the otters (my second favorite exhibit, but second only to the turtles, which you can see for free at the entryway to the zoo) were nowhere to be seen. According the the program, zebras, flamingos, and otters are among the most nocturnal creatures, and ones we could expect to see. We saw – and smelled – javalina, up close and personal. Saw the pink birds memorialized on lawns across America. Saw what might have been zebras from a great distance – either that or ponies or large dogs. But the otters, alas, were MIA.

So here are some fun facts about Phoenix’s Zoo Lights:

  • They use 2.5 million individual lights
  • One tree can have as many as 15,000 lights
  • It takes a 4-person crew about 12 weeks to install the lights, or 2,000 (hu)man-hours
  • The zoo has a full-time, year-round staff dedicated to installing, removing, planning, designing, and building Zoo Lights displays

Shawn and I at the entrance to Zoo Lights

Shawn and I at the entrance to Zoo Lights



Washington, D.C.

Point Defiance, Washington





Salt Lake City

Gainesville, Texas

So if you live anywhere near Phoenix or the other cities mentioned here and you have a Christmas lights aficionado on your stocking stuffer list, I promise you will NOT go wrong with tickets to Zoo Lights. If they’ve never been, they’ll love you forever. And if they have been, they’ll think you’re the most thoughtful person on earth to treat them again. Even for people who aren’t all that into the whole Christmas lights display thing, it’s still a fun, fun way to celebrate the season!

* * * * * * *

And, in a bit of personal shameless self-promotion (after all, marketing is a significant piece of what I do in my real life!), here’s the ad I put on Craigslist … just in case you’ve read all the way to the end and happen to know a single guy in the Phoenix area who sounds like the one I’ve described. Stranger things have happened, I’m thinking…

Zoo Lights, anyone? – 41 (Central Phoenix)

Reply to: pers-977054391@craigslist.org
Date: 2009-01-01, 11:52PM MST

I’ve always wanted to go, but have never made it, for
some reason. It’s open till January 11, so we still have a
few days.

OK, here are the goods . . .

• 41 / single / near Central & Campbell
• 5’2” / brown eyes / shoulder-length brunette hair
• Work out 3x a week – but not a gym rat or Barbie
• Self-employed as an editor/writer/marketer
• Reader / moviegoer / movie critic
• Love almost any kind of music
• Creative and easy-going
• Eclectic interests from baseball to sewing to yard
sales to hiking
• 2 dogs

• Roughly 35 to 50
• Single / available / believe chivalry is alive and well
• Greater Phoenix
• Gainfully occupied
• Smart / liberal / funny / open-minded
• Spiritually inclined
• Good conversationalist
• Have a purpose/passion

If this resonates with you, please drop a line. And if
you have kids, feel free to bring them along. Happy
New Year!