A Portland tradition since 1987.

Like any other family in the Portland area, we’d make our way to the Oregon Zoo around this time of year to see the holiday lights from the comfort of a miniature train.

Choo-chooing our way around the zoo last night with Lori, Simone and Kyndall, it was a nice reminder of a wholesome outdoor activity to lift the spirits in a secular way.

I mean, what was there not to like?

  • An unhurried stroll on a Monday evening with a gentle mist to freshen the air.
  • An elaborate display of tiny holiday lights — 1.6 million of them — in the shape of different animals, characters and objects.
  • A cup of hot chocolate and a cookie to sip and nibble.
  • A visit to the elephants’ enclosure to see three adults and two babies munching on hay.
  • Families and couples delighting in each other’s company.

You’d have to be a Grinch not to appreciate all this.

Thanks to Simone’s job at Metro, we enjoyed free entrance — and a free train ride — on a preview night set aside for the agency’s employees and their family members.

Getting there and back was a cinch, too. Lori took the bus downtown and I met her after work. We boarded the light rail at Pioneer Courthouse Square and a few stops later, there we were at the zoo.

No driving or parking hassles. Just hopped on at the end of the evening with the girls and rode back to our respective neighborhoods.

The annual exhibit, now in its 28th year, opens Friday, Nov. 27, and runs through Jan. 3.

It had been several years since I’d attended. If it’s been the same for you, may I suggest you get off your keister and make it happen this year.

Ticket prices, hours and other details are here. And there’s an admission discount if you take the MAX and show proof of ridership.


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