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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s Halloween celebration has always been a magical time for the whole family, but this year, with help from our sponsors, the festivities got a major glow up at the first annual Ghouls and Glow.
“We’ve always loved partnering with the zoo because they align with our values,” says Heather Plum, public relations strategist at Veridian Credit Union, which had been a presenting sponsor of our previous Halloween event, Spooktacular. “When they brought us the idea that they wanted to do a first-of-its-kind lantern event, we were thrilled to sign on as the presenting sponsor.”
For Ghouls and Glow, the zoo worked with Texas-based firm, Dazzle, and ID8 Productions from Tennessee, to create an enchanting illuminated village in the Bay Family’s Children’s Adventure Trails, consisting of 400 larger-than-life lanterns, such as a cheerfully eerie haunted house, a witches’ brewing party, a skeleton band, sugar skulls, and a colorful rogue’s gallery of other things that creep, crawl and go bump in the night.
“I knew the concept, and I had seen all the mock-ups in advance, but nothing could have prepared me for the experience of seeing these lanterns come to life at night in the zoo,” says Plum.
Kelsie Sis, corporate and foundation manager at the zoo, says that seasonal event’s evolution was a way to incorporate some of the zoo’s newer attractions and bring something new to the Omaha community. “Spooktacular was more of a trick-or-treating experience for younger children. We created Ghouls and Glow to be something that the whole family could enjoy.”
Many of the beloved features of Spooktacular lived on at Ghouls and Glow. The pathways were lined with jack-o-lanterns and decorations provided by our holiday lighting partner, Holidynamics and our holiday décor partner Oriental Trading Company; Omaha Street Percussion still set the beat; and guests could still visit Mahoney Kingdoms of the Night and the Lied Jungle with the lights on, seeing those exhibits’ nocturnal animals in their “day” cycles. But there were also expanded animal ambassador presentations, and completely mesmerizing fire and light dancing performances by Omaha Circus Arts.
The new event attracted 30,581 visitors, which doubled the attendance of Spooktacular, and received brilliant reviews. “Each week, Veridian held a contest on our social media for free tickets, and we had nearly 2,000 people enter,” says Plum.
She adds that as a not-for-profit cooperative owned by their members, Veridian is very careful about their dollars, but that partnering with the zoo gives them the opportunity to give back to, and connect with, the Omaha community. “The zoo is great with sponsor relations, and always very communicative and open to ideas,” she says. “Like us, they are extremely conscious of always upholding their mission, and being excellent financial stewards.”