Oregon ZooLights adjust for COVID-19 with drive-through event

The Oregon Zoo is preserving its annual ZooLights tradition with a drive-through edition for the 2020 Holiday season.
More than 1.5 million brightly colored lights transform the Oregon Zoo into a walk-through winter wonderland during ZooLights, presented by U.S. Bank, opening Nov. 23. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Like the rest of the country, the Oregon Zoo has been forced to pivot from its usual ZooLights festivities in 2020. Despite the circumstances, this annual Christmastime tradition will carry on with a nontraditional format.

Unlike in years past, spectators planning to check out the dazzling display of more than 1.5 million colored lights will do so from the comfort of their own car. Gov. Kate Brown’s mandated shutdown put a halt to The Oregon Zoo’s activity, but that’s not enough to stop the ZooLights.

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According to a release by The Oregon Zoo, the event is set to begin on Nov. 23 at The Oregon Zoo in Portland. Zoo events manager Nikki Simmons noted that safety and accessibility remain a priority in her organization’s re-opening of the annual event.

Spectators are being asked to remain in their cars and follow a specific path throughout the property to take in the incredible installation. In conjunction with Gov. Brown’s mandate, the Zoo remains closed to the public during the day from Tuesdays through Thursday until mid-February. This will give crewmates time and space to safely. The drive-through portion of ZooLights will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with tickets being sold 10 days in advance.

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Those in their cars aren’t required to wear facemasks, but strict rules are in place. When interacting with Oregon Zoo staff members and employees, masks are required. Beyond that, a 3 MPH speed limit is being enforced, honking is prohibited and visitors are asked to remain in their cars throughout the stay.

A walk-through version of ZooLights will also be made available, but most indoor parts of the Oregon Zoo remain closed. Masks will be required for all individuals age five and older and all transactions are being done without an exchange of physical currency. This way, ZooLights can provide a safer and more mindful experience for those in at-risk categories during this pandemic.

For more information on the event, restrictions and ticketing, head over to the Oregon Zoo’s website.