Woodland Park Zoo will be illuminated in thousands of sparkling LED lights during its first ever winter lights festival, WildLights. (Woodland Park Zoo/Ryan Hawk)

Neighbors complain about Woodland Park Zoo lights

Large, dramatic displays of lights have become popular during the holidays and the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is the latest to add a festival of lights. But zoo neighbors complain that the event will create congestion and danger on the streets around the zoo.

WildLights will feature hundreds of thousands of L-E-D lights in the shape of animals and their habitat. It will also attract thousands of visitors at a typically quiet time of the year for the zoo. That's a problem for some people who live in Phinney Ridge and surrounding neighborhoods.

"We're really concerned about the danger of doing something like this, 40 nights in a row," said Diane Duthweiler, President of the Phinney Ridge Community Council. She's organized a website for neighbors to log their specific concerns.

"This is happening at the commuter hour, it's dark, it's rainy, kids are still coming home from after-school activities, we have a lot of one-lane streets," complained Duthweiler.

Zoo spokesman David Schaefer says they've listened to the concerns. To minimize clogging of neighborhood streets, the zoo is offering free parking Monday through Thursday and they've made other changes, too. They've added lighting on 57th Street and they'll "have staff out in orange vests with flashlights" to guide visitors. The zoo is also offering shuttle buses from its south lot to transport visitors to the north end of the zoo where the holiday display of lights is located.

The zoo hopes the event will generate income to help pay for other zoo exhibits. The 40-night long WildLights opens Friday night (Nov. 23) and runs through Jan. 1. Hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. More event details.

Tim Haeck, KIRO Radio Reporter
Tim Haeck is a news reporter with KIRO Radio. While Tim is one of our go-to, no-nonsense reporters, he also has a sensationally dry sense of humor and it will surprise some to learn he is a weekend warrior.
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