Holiday Traditions: Bringing us together, making life better

Holiday Traditions: Bringing us together, making life better

A message from Park Board Commissioner Tim Reid

In my 24 years as a commissioner, I’ve experienced many Metro Parks holiday traditions. Winter Wildland at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The Candlelight Tour at Fort Nisqually. The Victorian Holiday Festival at the Seymour Conservatory. And of course, Zoolights – I go every single year with my children and grandchildren.

But ask me what my favorite part of Zoolights is, and I won’t say the 12th Man tree, the tiger head or Mt. Rainier in dazzling lights. I won’t even say the new baby animal displays like red wolf pups, tapir calf and tamandua pup that are being created especially for this year’s Zoolights by the Zoo’s talented operations crew. These things are fun and beautiful, of course – but there’s something bigger.

My favorite Zoolights moment is watching the faces of kids and adults as they see those 700,000 glowing colored lights. Watching their eyes light up with excitement and delight. Because with all these holiday traditions, it’s the experience that really changes people’s lives for the better – and that’s what’s so important about what we do at Metro Parks. We make life better for Tacoma families.

Think about the joy on a child’s face as they stare at massive sharks in the South Pacific Aquarium or feed a goat at Zoolights. Or the contentment of grandparents, sipping hot cocoa and revisiting old favorites like the purple-and-green Flame Tree. The excitement of new experiences, like ocean virtual reality and making s’mores on the café deck. And the sheer wonderment of those iconic South Sound scenes – the Narrows Bridges, the giant octopus – come to life in sparkling lights. These are the experiences we share with family and friends that we remember always.

Even more, they bring our community together as well. When we watch grizzly cubs enjoying holiday treats at Northwest Trek’s Winter Wildland, when we admire brilliant red poinsettias at the Conservatory, we’re also celebrating human creativity and culture. We’re celebrating all of us.

So join me at this year’s Zoolights – I’ll be there with my family. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Together, let’s celebrate.

A few of our upcoming Holiday Events:

  • Zoolights is open 5-9 p.m. Nov. 29 – Jan. 5 (closed Dec. 24) at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. $6.50 members/$11-$13 general. Info:
  • Winter Wildland runs 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Dec. 28-29 at Northwest Trek. It’s free with admission. Info:
  • Norpoint Turkey Trot is stuffed with fun and features a 5k, 2-mile, and Kids’ Dash.  It is held on Thanksgiving morning at 9 a.m. at the CPark Board Tim Reidenter at Norpoint. Registration is open until Nov. 26 at
  • Christmas Regale at Fort Nisqually is a great way to experience a real old-fashioned Christmas. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are available online at
  • Victorian Holiday Festival at W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory is a unique way to experience the Victorian-styled conservatory. Enjoy music, crafts & refreshments. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14.
  • The Polar Bear Plunge is held every year on New Year’s Day at the Point Defiance boat launch. Kick-off the new year with a cool tradition—a refreshing plunge into Puget Sound. $5 per person includes a t-shirt.

View the entire list of holiday events at

Tim Reid is a Tacoma native who has been a member of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners since 1995.

Posted In: Park Board, Programs