For years, I vowed to get up to the Bronx Zoo to experience the Holiday Lights Show, in which dozens of displays in the shape of countless animals light up the grounds. Last year I finally made it, and it exceeded my expectations. It was truly magical and filled me with boundless holiday spirit. I vowed to make it an annual tradition, bringing my son to the zoo every season.
I guess I won't be doing that.
The very hards news was reported today that the Zoo has decided to discontinue the light show, not to save money, but to lessen its carbon footprint.
In its place, the new Wild Winterland show will be a daylight festival featuring Clydesdale horse wagon rides, a petting zoo, ice carving, stilt walkers, puppets and craft workshops - but no lighted features....
The "green" spin on the Bronx tradition is an effort by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon dioxide, or CO2) from its New York facilities.
Zoo officials said the Holiday Lights Show consumed about 3,500 kilowatts a night, equal to about 2 metric tons of CO2 emissions. That adds up to about 66 metric tons a season - as much as a three-person household produces in an entire year.
They're doing the right thing, of course,...I guess. But I can't convey how dispirited this change makes me. Walking through that zoo at night, with bright animal shapes dazzling my eyes at every turn, and Christmas tunes wafting through the trees caressing my ears, I experienced a sort of pure, dopey happiness, the kind I associate with my childhood Yuletides. I don't think ice sculptures and stilt walkers will quite will be quite as transporting.