Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's All Happening at the Zoo -- Even More Than Usual

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's All Happening at the Zoo -- Even More Than Usual

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTY WHITEHEAD, River City News correspondent

Snakes, owls and lizards mingled with children at the Jacksonville zoo's first "Noon Year's Eve" celebration Dec. 31.

The event was free to everyone who purchased a ticket to the zoo and featured performances by several musicians, including Madyson Holden and Nikki Cleary.

Karyn Bardes, part of the marketing department at the zoo, said this was the first time the event had been held in Northeast Florida. She said that the event, which is hosted by radio station WBWL (600 AM), which is billed as Radio Disney, has been held in South Florida in the past.

For three hours, children and parents danced and played while listening to the music and getting autographs from the musical groups. Radio station workers periodically drew names from a drawing and gave out prizes like CDs, T-shirts, posters and DVDs to the crowd.

Leresa Killinger, 17, and Sara Benjamin, 11, attended the event as employees of the station. The girls stood in front of a group of several hundred people and led them in dancing to the Village People's YMCA.***"We just dance and have fun with the kids," said Killinger, who lives on the Southside. After dancing, she manned a booth that put temporary tattoos on children's hands.

Benjamin rubbed a temporary tattoo onto Hayle Page's hand as the 7-year-old stood patiently waiting for the tattoo to appear. Page, who lives on the Northside, said her favorite part of the event was the dancing.

She wasn't the only little girl dancing to the music. Katie Mcafee, 3, held her father's hand and did a little wiggle while her father smiled and wiggled back.

Theresa Mcafee stood back and took pictures of her husband and daughters dancing. The Riverside family said the event allowed them to celebrate the New Year with their two children--since the children would likely be asleep by midnight otherwise. …

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