The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park is hoping to bring some holiday cheer to north country families.
Since the end of November, the zoo has offered its annual Winter Wonderland Weekends holiday decorations and lights display, but it also attracted more than 100 people Saturday to its annual Holiday Hullabazoo event.
People are starting to get more in the festive mood, said John T. Wright, the zoos executive director.
Mr. Wright was working Saturday alongside zoo staff and volunteers, dressed as elves, as they helped children decorate cookies and do a variety of crafts.
As a nonprofit, we also see the importance of giving back to the community, he said.
Admission for the Hullabazoo was either a donation of nonperishable food or personal hygiene products for the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County food pantry or a new toy for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
The event was held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Inside the zoos main building, children waited in line to see Santa, relaxed with hot cocoa and doughnuts and made pine cones dipped in peanut butter, suet and corn meal rolled in birdseed for birds to snack on.
After many families were done crafting, they walked throughout the zoo from exhibit to exhibit seeing all of the animals. Scarlett M. Bearor, 19 months, daughter of Jilian R. Bearor, Watertown, walked around with her pine cone bird snack as she observed some of her favorite animals, wolves.
She loves the animals, Mrs. Bearor said. We have a dog, Jack, so she calls all animals Jack.
She said shed been to the zoo a few times in the past, and plans to buy a family membership for next year.
Noah C. Cuppernell, 3, said his favorite part of the day was making a reindeer craft item and seeing Santa.
I said I want a rock-n-roll guitar, Noah said.
His mother, Corey I. Cuppernell, Watertown, said she heard about the Holiday Hullabazoo through a Facebook post, and brought Noah to it because its something to do in the winter.
I was very happy; there was a lot to do, she said.
Although Saturdays weather of light rain and sunshine didnt reflect a typical Northern New York winter, Mr. Wright said the zoos Winter Wonderland Weekends display is becoming more popular as Christmas approaches.
Admission to each Winter Wonderland Weekend is from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays to Sundays through Dec. 30, and costs $3 for adults and $2 for children. There is no charge to members.
In days of holiday stress, spending time with family and developing traditions is important, Mr. Wright said. We do that with the Holiday Hullabazoo and Winter Wonderland Weekends.
The zoo is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until March.