Near gale-force winds and threats of rain weren’t enough to frighten away hundreds of families from visiting this year’s annual Boo at the Zoo event at Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City.
The hugely popular, long-running event is a local institution, providing a safe, fun trick-or-treating experience for children of all ages. Hosted by Washington Park Zoo and the Washington Park Zoological Society, Boo at the Zoo is sponsored by numerous area businesses, who set up booths along the zoo pathway and hand out candy to eager little hands.
“This is a tremendous fund-raiser for us,” said Shawne Sheldon, retail manager at Washington Park Zoo and treasurer for the Zoo Society. “Families love it because it’s safe. There are a ton of vendors here, so families get to come here, do some trick-or-treating, visit the zoo and check out the animals all at the same time.”
Sheldon says that her favorite part is seeing all the costumes.
“It’s really great seeing everyone dressed up. I really like when I see families dressed up all together as a theme.”
The event helps the zoo to raise money to cover operating expenses that the city doesn’t cover, such as zoo food, veterinary care, and special projects.
“I went to this zoo as a child, said John Lake, candidate for LaPorte County prosecutor, had a tent set up near the zoo’s castle. “When we heard it was coming up again, we decided to become a sponsor. The turn-out here today is great. It’s a sold-out event, so the response from the community has been great. Lot of people don’t really want to go door-to-door anymore, so this is a much nicer, safer alternative.”
Kelly Parks is a Michigan City native who currently lives and works as a nurse in Lafeyette. She made the two-hour drive back to Michigan City, along with her young daughters, Hailey and Madison.
“It’s a great event, and I like to come back, visit my parents and bring my children to the zoo,” said Parks. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids.”
Joe and Missy Yagelski, from Westville, brought their daughter Claire to the event.
“My father, Sgt. Chris Yagelski, helps with this event,” said Joe Yagelski. “We love it! The atmosphere is terrific, everyone is very kind. It’s just a great, family-friendly event.”
Boo at the Zoo is held in two sessions, with advance tickets highly recommended, as the event sells out quickly. Admission cost is $4 for adult non-member, $5 for child (ages 2-11 years) non-member. Zoo members and children under 2 years old are free. Zoo membership cost is $40/year for an individual, $60/year for families. Grandparent, Family Plus and Zookeeper membership plans are also available.
Washington Park Zoo is open daily from April 1st through October 31st. The zoo will be closed from November 1st through March 31st for the winter season.
For more information, visit the zoo online at https://www.washingtonparkzoo.com.