WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular is back for the tenth year at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange through Jan. 3. The Holiday Lights Spectacular runs daily from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Tuesday, Jan. 3, and is closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, non-perishable pet food, new unwrapped toys, and new and gently used winter coats to help families in need. Last year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, about 25 tons of non-perishable food, 15,480 toys and 6,280 winter coats were collected for the less fortunate, according to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

“We invite the public to make this Essex County holiday tradition your family tradition," he said. "Turtle Back Zoo will be turned into a Winter Wonderland, with extraordinary seasonal lighting exhibits and costumed characters. Stroll the landscaped paths of our zoo and admire the illuminated images of everything from toy soldiers to penguins."

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About 50 animal and holiday-themed figures currently light up the winter night in Turtle Back Zoo and the surrounding Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex. More than 100,000 lights illuminate figures of bears, tigers, elephants and other animals along with holiday lights designed to look like wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes.

Several animal exhibits will be open during Holiday Light hours, including the Sea Lion Sound, Essex Farm, Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve, Tropical Currents Aquarium and the Reptile Building. Myrtle the Turtle, the mascot of Turtle Back Zoo, and several of his winter friends will be on hand to greet visitors at the zoo.

The Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular is sponsored by PSE&G, Covanta Energy, the Zoological Society of New Jersey and the Essex County Parks Foundation.

Hot chocolate and other refreshments will be available for purchase.

For more information, call Essex County Turtle Back Zoo at 973-731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org.

Sobel & Co, a full-service accounting firm in Livingston specializing in family business and not-for-profits, is the proud sponsor of the Essex County News section of TAPintoLivingston.net and TAPintoWestEssex.net. For more information, visit the Sobel & Co., LLC website.