WEST ORANGE, NJ -- Almost 25 tons of non-perishable food was collected during the Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo in December.

The zoo was recognized this month by the Community FoodBank of NJ for donating 49,078 pounds of non-perishable food collected and donated to the organization during the six-week period.

The food donations were "admission" during the attraction that ran from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, although no one without a food donation was turned away.

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People carrying bags of canned goods, dry products and other non-perishable foods were seen during the entire period bringing their donations for drop-off just outside the Zoo before entering the see the lights free of any other charge.

The award was presented to County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo by Tim Vogel, Director of Food Sourcing at the Community FoodBank with employees of Turtle Back Zoo who worked the event in attendance.