‘WildLights’ – a new light festival at Woodland Park Zoo

  • Written by Deborah Stone
WildLights Art Concept Todd Nordling Concept Design
Introducing Seattle’s first ever winter lights festival at the zoo. Courtesy photo.
Add Woodland Park Zoo to your list of festive attractions this holiday season.

Beginning November 23, visitors will be able to see the zoo in a whole new light.

The all-new “WildLights” will feature wild animals and wild places recreated in thousands of sparkling LED lights inspired by exotic destinations from across the globe.

According to Jim Bennett, marketing director for the zoo, WildLights will be a spectacular animated display of nature’s wonder.

“This is the first time we’re doing something like this,” he says. “We’ve been talking about it for quite a while because we have seen other zoos around the country doing it successfully for many years. It’s a good way to generate revenue during the winter when attendance is typically lower than in our peak May to September time period.

“We wanted to spread our attendance out over the year and get people excited about coming to the zoo in the quieter months.”

Zoo staff is orchestrating the project with Facilities Manager Larry Sammons at the helm.

Sammons, according to Bennett, has a background in theater and set design.

“WildLights is going to be different from your typical holiday light display,” notes Bennett. “It’s not holiday-themed. The lights will tell stories about the animals we have here at the zoo. It will be entertaining, but also educational.”

He goes on to describe one of the displays, “The Water Hole,” explaining that it will be similar to the zoo’s African Savannah exhibit and feature lighted hippos, elephants, giraffes and other creatures indicative to this environment.

“Northern Lights,” another display will have an Alaskan and Pacific Northwest focus with illuminated elks, wolves and bears.

Attractions will be concentrated in the Northwest quadrant of the zoo, near the penguins and Day Exhibit and close to the historic carousel, which will be decorated for the occasion.

There are even going to be reindeer on hand, which the zoo is bringing in for the special event. And of course, festive snacks will be available for purchase.

“Most of our live animals won’t be on view in the evenings,” comments Bennett, “but those in the Day Exhibit will be present.

“They include reptiles, amphibians and tree kangaroos.

“And we are also planning on having some of our presentation animals make an appearance from time to time.”

Based on other zoos’ attendance records for this type of event, Bennett expects 50,000 to 60,000 visitors to the zoo during WildLights.

He adds, “Our hope is that this will become an annual event for the zoo and a family tradition during the holiday season.”

What: WildLights – a unique, illuminated light display
When: November 23 – January 1, 5:30 – 8 p.m. nightly
Where: Woodland Park Zoo
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online only by visiting
Night-of-event tickets will be for sale at the zoo’s West Entrance, if not sold out.

2012 Garden d’ Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden opens Nov. 24

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society Garden d’ Lights features over a half million lights which transform the Bellevue Botanical Garden into a blossoming winter wonderland.

The show runs Saturday, November 24 – Monday, December 31.

Visit, to:

• Purchase your ticket. Admission is $5 per person; children 10 and under are free.

• Get all event and parking details.

• Find out how to visit the show for free.

Inspired by plants found in Northwest gardens, hundreds of volunteers work year round to bundle strings of lights into three dimensional flowers, shrubs, and vines.  In addition to artistic interpretation of plants, the volunteer team has created charming animal characters.

Charlotte the spider remains a favorite and will be back in her web near the Ground Cover Garden.

During the first three weeks of November, these creations are “planted” in the Botanical Garden. Then, with the flip of a switch on November 24, this unique holiday garden blooms every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. (last entry at 9:30 p.m.) through December 31.

The Trillium shop will be open from 5 to 9:30 p.m., and Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. for daylight shoppers and to purchase tickets.

The shop is brimming

with gift items, holiday ornaments and decor—a spectacular shop to match the spectacular

garden setting.

Local dancers to perform in PNB’s ‘Nutcracker’

  • Written by Deborah Stone
PNB Hayden 2
Photo courtesy of PNB. Rose Hayden (right, front)
It’s “Nutcracker” season at Pacific Northwest Ballet and among the many children dancing in the beloved Stowell/Sendak holiday production are six students from Woodinville.

They include Ashleigh Steedman, Cameron Schmitter, Faye and Rose Hayden, Riley Hoopes and Sarah Brooks.

Fourth grader Ashleigh Steedman, who attends Bellevue Christian School, will be performing the role of “small servant” in her first appearance in the production.

The 9-year-old began dancing when she was five and is currently in level two at PNB’s school.

She has seen the “Nutcracker” several times in the past and is thrilled to be among the cast and not the audience this year.

“I was so excited when I heard I got the part,” says Ashleigh. “I love dancing in front of people and can’t wait to have my friends come and watch me on the big stage. I’m also excited about the costumes.”

The young girl loves to dance, adding, “It’s really fun and I love the music and my teachers are so nice.”

PNB Steedman
Photo courtsy of PNB. Ashleigh Steedman
If she gets nervous before a performance, Ashleigh explains that she will just smile and try to keep calm.

When the local student isn’t attending ballet classes, she enjoys drawing and riding her horse Apollo.

Dance, however, is her passion and she hopes to become a professional ballerina one day.

Beer Creek Elementary fifth grader, Cameron Schmitter, is a veteran “Nutcracker” performer.

This marks the 10-year-old’s fourth consecutive year in the show and he will be dancing the role of “Party Boy.”

When he heard he had been chosen to dance in the show once again, Cameron was initially disappointed due to his role.

“I had been a soldier last year and it was really fun, so I hoped I would get to do it this year, too,” he explains. “But then I learned I would be on the stage for a longer time as ‘Party Boy’ so that’s good.”

Cameron has been dancing since he was four and particularly enjoys opportunities to perform.

Seeing PNB’s “Nutcracker” production as a very young child prompted him to begin studying ballet.

He currently takes classes three times a week. “My challenge is my flexibility,” he admits, “so I really have to work at it. I’m also working on learning double pirouettes which are hard to do.”

PNB Brookes
Photo courtesy of PNB. Sarah Brooks
Cameron, like Ashleigh, wants to become a professional dancer, too.

“My goal is to get in with a good company,” he adds. “And then when I retire, I still want to be involved with dance somehow.”

In addition to ballet, the local boy is involved in numerous activities including soccer, gymnastics, piano, figure skating and Taekwondo.

“I don’t have free time,” he comments. “I’m very busy.”

As for the other local students, sisters Faye and Rose Hayden will dance the roles of “Artillery” and “Party Girl” respectively, while Riley Hoopes will perform as “Infantry” and Sarah Brooks as “Small Servant.”

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” returns to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall for 30 performances December 7-29.

For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or

A place to be horse crazy!

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

NWNHC Kids ClubBeginning December 1, the Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center (NWNHC) at Patterson Creek Farm in Fall City will be launching its new Kids Club which has been designed as a comprehensive horse education program for students who already have their foundational horsemanship skills and want to expand their knowledge of everything horsey.

The club will meet every other Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the farm.

Girls and boys, ages 8 and up are invited to join. Membership fees allow club members to benefit from group lessons, education, field trips, guest speakers and access to the NWNHC reading and video library.

Free auditing of NWNHC events and club-sponsored play days are also included.

Members will learn about horsemanship, horse care, feeding and careers.

Plus, they get to spend some fun time with other horse-crazy kids.

The highlight of the year will be competing as a team in the Natural Horsemanship Games and Extreme Cowboy Race.

More information about the club and the Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center is available at:

Helping horses in a bazaar way

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Just north of Monroe, safely tucked away from the road, is a horse haven with rolling pastures, trees, green grass, fresh water, shelter and a unique set of volunteers dedicated to helping horses.  This is where Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) is located.

Founded in 2008, Northwest Equine Stewardship Center works together with local equine rescue organizations to help neglected and abused horses get the care they need and find forever homes. Their focus is on the professional level rehabilitation (veterinary, farrier, training, etc.) of rescue horses and they rely on the dedicated work of local horse rescue organizations to take on the long term responsibility of horses in need and to find forever homes once they have been rehabilitated.

Since it was founded, NWESC had helped hundreds of horses, in conjunction with local rescue agencies, to recover from neglect and abuse. However, their efforts with this specialized rehabilitation come at a price.  On average, it costs NWESC approximately $20-$35 per day to care for one horse’s most basic needs.

Add a severely neglected or abused horse and that cost only covers a portion of the equation.

“Once a horse is rehabilitated, the work begins with local rescue organizations to continue the care and training of the horse while providing it a safe haven until it can find a forever home.” stated Dr. Hannah Mueller, a board director for NWESC. “It can take several months to years to find the appropriate home for some of these horses, and that monetary cost adds up.”

At an average monthly cost of $400-$700 which does NOT include feed or training, the costs do indeed add up in a hurry.

While a portion of the yearly costs are funded through adoption fees, mini-fundraisers, grants and horse sponsorships, most of the expenses are left unaccounted for.

It is for those unfunded expenses that NWESC is hosting their second annual holiday bazaar.

The bazaar, to be held on Saturday, December 1, will include a hot lunch and refreshments, shopping, raffles, photos with Santa (the mini-horse), a cake walk and lots of fun! The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be held at NWESC (9812 215th Ave SE, Snohomish). All proceeds will benefit the 501(c)(3) organization.

In addition to shopping, you can help sponsor a rescue horse through NWESC’s “Giving Tree.”

Items of need will adorn a tree as decorative ornaments. You can sponsor a horse, a specific item or a service by simply picking your ornament and donating the corresponding cost.

Tax deductible monetary donations are also welcome.

“These donations, in whatever form, will make it possible for NWESC to continue our mission in helping horses in need,” said Dr. Hannah Mueller.

For more information, visit