Essex County’s gem, the Turtle Back Zoo, has all sorts of special attractions for the holiday season.

First, there is a light display with over 50 lighted animals and holiday figures to enjoy. Over 100,000 lights will illuminate figures of bears, tigers and elephants, along with holiday lights designed to look like wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes.

One thing I’ve always been impressed by are ice sculptures and the Turtle Back Zoo will have special ice carving demonstrations on selected Saturdays (4, 11, 18) in Dec.

According to New Jersey isn’t Boring, several animal exhibits will be open, including the Sea Lion Sound, Essex Farm, Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve, Tropical Currents Aquarium and the Reptile Building. Myrtle the Turtle, the mascot of Turtle Back Zoo, and several of his winter friends will be on hand to greet visitors at the Zoo.

Some of the other special events include a sing along with Olaf (from “Frozen”), a meet and greet with Santa (with professional photography available), a princess holiday appearance, a meet and greet with the Grinch, and more. There is also a “Holiday Meal with Our Sea Lions”; a special feeding demonstration.

A special mailbox will be set up for letters to Santa, as well.

Admission to the park is free, but you are asked, in the holiday spirit of giving, to bring a non-perishable food item, new toy, and/or a gently used coat.

The Turtle Back Zoo is located in West Orange.

For more info about the dates for specific activities, visit the zoo’s website.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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