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Happy faces lit up by 80-foot tree, Masterworks Chorale at Toledo Zoo 'Lights Before Christmas'

The Toledo Zoo's "Lights Before Christmas" had its annual tree-lighting ceremony Friday night. Before and after, the lines were full of excited happy faces.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Zoo's "Lights Before Christmas" had its annual tree lighting ceremony on Friday at 6 p.m. Before and after the main event, the lines were full of excited happy faces.

For many families, the lights and celebration -- which is in its 37th year -- are an annual tradition.

Attendees Carolyn Horner, with her friend Caity Lobach, pulled Horner's sons Derek and Jordan in their blanket-covered red wagon.

This is Horner's eighth year coming to the lights and Lobach's first time. The whole group was anxious in line, ready to walk to the Norway Spruce and animal destinations.

In addition to all the sights, the Masterworks Chorale of Toledo's voices echoed during the tree-lighting ceremony. Director Tim Cloeter said the chorale has been performing at the lights since the very beginning.

"Every year now, for many years, we've sung for the lighting of the big tree," he said. "So, at that moment we'll be background and we'll be singing 'Oh, Christmas Tree' with our hearts out."

While the over 80-foot spruce tree is clearly the star of the show, the notorious Midwest chill can make for teeth-chattering weather to sing in. But Cloeter said there's a reason the chorale has performed at the event for decades. 

"It's a way to give back to our community," he said. "Our mission statement is, 'connecting lives through choral music,' and this is one small way we can do that in our community."

The Lights Before Christmas runs until Dec. 31, open Mondays through Thursdays from 3-8 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 3-9 p.m. It will also be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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