By Carla Knapp
The warm glow of twinkling lights will fill the night sky as the Indianapolis Zoo brings together the best of the holiday season with a wild twist for its 47th year of Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union.
This festive tradition began back in 1967 when the Indianapolis Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to hold a holiday lights event. Now, more than 100,000 guests each year come to make new Christmastime memories.
This year, visitors can experience the magic of this beloved event from 5-9pm Wednesdays through Sundays from Nov. 27-Jan. 3, plus Dec. 21, 22, 28 and 29. The Zoo is closed on Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day.
The Zoo opens daily at noon, and guests are encouraged to come early to find parking and visit with their favorite cold-weather critters, like tigers, polar bear, sea lions, walrus, brown bears and more.
The Zoo’s many indoor exhibits offer a perfect place for guests to go when cheeks get rosy, while special animal keeper chats throughout the day will help put everyone in the Christmas spirit. Guests also have a chance to win an Animal Art Adventure by finding the mistletoe hidden around grounds.
As the sun sets, the Zoo will transform into a winter wonderland filled with colorful, 100-percent LED lights and displays, including We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers and the All-A-Glow Light Show presented by United Healthcare.
As visitors stroll through the Zoo, they can sip on a cup of hot cocoa, sample delicious holiday treats, listen to local choirs on the Holiday Harmony Stage presented by WTHR and enjoy traditional carolers singing by the fireside.
Additional activities await in White River Gardens at Santa’s Workshop presented by Chick-fil-A, where the little ones will love decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus, writing letters to Santa and meeting Kriss Kringle himself through Dec. 23.
The wintertime crafts and activities continue even after Santa heads back to the North Pole, and visitors can enjoy Santa’s Tropical Paradise inside the Hilbert Conservatory throughout the holiday season.
Christmas at the Zoo is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission for other visitors. Discount tickets are available at participating Donatos and Teachers Credit Union locations.
Guests can receive $1 off admission at the gate with the donation of a new hat, scarf or gloves to benefit St. Mary’s Child Center. Visithttp://www.IndianapolisZoo.com/ for advance tickets and more information, or call 317-630-2001.
By Patricia Rettig
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
Carols and Christmas trees, snowfall and Santa Claus – these telltale signs of the holiday season are all included in the glittering gala known as A Beef & Boards Christmas. Opening Nov. 28, 2015, this annual Hoosier tradition is the perfect outing for the entire family.
Hosts Kenny Shepherd and Deb Wims welcome family and friends to escape from the chilly outdoors and enjoy the warmth of Beef & Boards’ delightful musical spectacular. This year’s celebration features the return of highly-acclaimed vocalist Kendra Lynn Lucas and her passionate performance of “O Holy Night.”
Kendra first appeared on the Beef & Boards stage in the 2014 production and was most recently seen in this season’s The Drowsy Chaperone. Also returning from last year are lead vocalists Peter Scharbrough and Matt Branic, who are joined by Cara Statham Serber (last seen as the title character in Mary Poppins) and local newcomer, Betsy Norton.
With new musical arrangements and the return of beloved favorites, including Kenny and Deb’s signature Christmas waltz, A Beef & Boards Christmas is both familiar and fresh. A tribute to the military honors all who have served, and children will delight when Santa takes the stage. Plus they’ll get to tell him their most special wishes when they have the opportunity to meet him during intermission.
A Beef & Boards Christmas is on stage for 31 performances through Dec. 23 in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $40 to $65 and include Chef Odell Ward’s holiday buffet, prepared in-house for each performance, and select beverages. Parking is always free.
For reservations, call the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre Box Office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. Discounts are available to groups of 20 or more; contact the Group Sales Department for more details.
For more information, including complete show schedule, visitbeefandboards.com. A Beef & Boards Christmas is sponsored in part by WHMB TV-40.
By Jane Jankowski
Indiana Sports Corp.
More than 150 divers, including Hoosier and Olympic diving champion David Boudia, have registered to compete at the USA Diving Winter National Championships Dec. 15-20, 2015, at the IU Natatorium on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis, Indiana.
All-session and single-session tickets are now available and may be purchased through Tickmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Adult all-session tickets are $40, and single-session tickets are $10.
Boudia, from Noblesville and Purdue University, is an 11-time U.S. National Team member who was the 2012 U.S. Olympic team gold medalist in the men’s 10-meter platform event. He is expected to team with fellow Hoosier and Purdue diver Steele Johnson (Carmel, Ind.) in the men’s synchronized 10-meter event.
Other Olympians who are scheduled to compete in the meet are:
Troy Dumais, four-time Olympian who has been on the U.S. National Team since 1996
Kristian Ipsen, 2012 bronze medalist in the men’s synchro 3-meter springboard
Abby Johnston, 2012 Olympic silver medalist in synchronized 3-meter springboard
Ariel Rittenhouse, 2008 Olympian and seven-time member of the U.S. National Team
Mary Beth Dunnichay, Elwood resident and Purdue University diver who was the youngest U.S. Olympian in 2008
A number of other divers have Indiana ties, including Amy Cozad, Indianapolis/Indiana University, who finished sixth in the women’s 10-meter event at the 2015 World Championships; Michael Hixon, Indiana University, who won two NCAA diving events in 2014; Jessica Parratto, Indiana University diver and 2015 NCAA champion on platform; Darian Schmidt, a Bloomington native and Indiana University graduate who is a three-time national team member.
The USA Diving Winter National Championships meet also doubles as the U.S. selection trials for the 2016 FINA World Cup, which is the final opportunity for countries to earn their qualifying spots into the 2016 Olympic Games. It also will be the final tune-up for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving that will also be conducted at the IU Natatorium from June 18-26.
Divers will compete in the men’s and women’s 3-meter springboard, 10-meter platform, synchronized 3-meter springboard and synchronized 10-meter platform over the six days of competition.
For the complete Winter Nationals schedule, go to:
To purchase tickets, go to:
By Rachel Hill-Ponko
Indiana Historical Society
In just its second year, the Indiana Historical Society’s Festival of Trees is growing in both popularity and scope. This year, around 50 elaborately themed trees will be on display at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio St., up from 25 trees in 2014. The winter wonderland opens on Nov. 27, 2015 and runs through Jan. 2, 2016.
“Last year’s Festival of Trees brought thousands of people into the History Center to see themed trees that were whimsical and reflected our unique Hoosier character and culture, ” said John A. Herbst, IHS president and CEO. “This year we have doubled the number of trees to 50. In addition to trees that celebrate Indiana companies past and present like L.S. Ayres and Weaver Popcorn, and icons like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we added a lot of ethnic themed ones.”
This year’s featured trees also include a tribute to the Indiana holiday classic A Christmas Story, an upside-down tree, and even a tree you could win to display in your own home. You can take part in the fun during the History Center’s regular hours of Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This holiday season, guests will also be able to tour Festival of Trees an extra day each week. The History Center will be open noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The History Center will also extend its hours on Tuesday, Dec. 22, staying open until 9 p.m.
In addition to the winter wonderland, guests to IHS can tour an exhibition highlighting holiday-based photos in Lanham Gallery and enjoy fun, family-friendly activities and events.
For more information on Festival of Trees and other IHS programs, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.