Planning is key for 1 million light display at Lights before Christmas

A new 3D display tells a story on the facade of the Carnivore Cafe (Source: WTOL)
A new 3D display tells a story on the facade of the Carnivore Cafe (Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - If you've ever hung Christmas lights at your home, you know how much work it can take.

Unpacking and detangling last year's lights which may or may not even work, climbing up and down your ladder, wrapping lights in trees that weren't exactly designed to be wrapped by a string of lights, and figuring out how to get power to your creating.

And the more lights you put out, the bigger a job it becomes.

Now, imagine hanging a million lights over approximately fifty acres.

That's the task a team at the Toledo Zoo takes on every single year.

It starts with the design.

"We had to figure out what to do with them. that's when we started figuring out how to put them on trees, shrubs, how to outline our pathways with the lights, how else we could make a light show really interesting," said Nancy Bucher, Curator of Horticulture at the Zoo.

Nancy has been the master behind the scenes since the Lights Before Christmas started thirty-two years ago.

Back then, they started with just 75 thousand lights, and no plan.

Now, Nancy and her team have a plan, and some 900 thousand more lights.

"We have, we call it our script, in that script we have every tree, every shrub that gets decorated, is written in there," said Zoo Horticulturist Michelle Aldrich.

And that's not all. The script also tells the 12-15 people who hang lights what color, how many strands and exactly how they should be hung.

"We don't want to make sweeping changes to areas we know are very popular," said Nancy.

There is one thing new this year you will definitely notice.

It's a new project on a new canvas the front of the Carnivore Cafe.

Scenes of Wonder is a four and a half minute 3D holiday display that uses realistic images to tell a story, right on the facade of the Cafe.

"Every year we look at ways to find something interesting and fun and unique for Lights Before Christmas. It's been a holiday tradition since 1986. So trying to find new and innovative ways to tell the holiday story is what we try to do," said Toledo Zoo Director of Communications Shayla Bell.

The zoo plans to run the display on a continuous loop throughout the evening, giving visitors a chance to stop and make a new memory.

So as you embark on the tradition this year, maybe take the advice of Nancy she knows what she's talking about.

"I think it's just going to look beautiful," said Nancy.

Now imagine taking all those lights down.

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