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Dazzling displays light up the nights

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Updated: January 21, 2013 3:48PM



The shortest days of the year are here but that just leaves more nighttime to enjoy the dazzling light displays throughout the area.

† Skating penguins, a roller coaster, dancing daisies and a fire truck with a firefighter climbing a ladder as it rises are just some of the many whimsical and impressive lighting displays in two public lights installations in Northwest Indiana.

The Winter Lights Drive Through at Sunset Hill Farm County Park will dazzle from dusk until 9 p.m. through Jan. 1. The park is at 775 Meridian Road, just south of Highway 6, in Valparaiso. Admission is free, with donations welcomed.

The Festival of Holiday Lights in Michigan City has extensive displays spread throughout Washington Park, the marina and zoo entrance. Hours for this drive-through display are from 4:30 p.m. to midnight through Jan. 6. Washington Park is along Lake Shore Drive, north of U.S. 12 at Pine Street. Admission is free.

† ZooLights at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is another delightful freebie (once you get the car parked, that is). Colored lights beautifully blanket many of the trees reminiscent of ice after a spring storm, only bright and colorful. You can also walk through a tunnel of lights, enjoy displays synchronized to music, watch ice carvers at work, play in the children’s zoo and see what the resident animals do after dark.

ZooLights is from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Dec. 26 through Jan. 6. Lincoln Park Zoo is west of Lakeshore Drive at Fullerton Parkway. Lot parking is $20.

† Taltree Arboretum and Gardens in Valparaiso is presenting a “green” light display this year. No, the bulbs aren’t all one color. Rather, the gardens is presenting an eco-conscious Glow in the Garden with solar panels powering many of the lights, and phosphorescent ornaments powered by the sun decorating a grand old oak tree.

Additionally, model trains will run inside the decorated Railway Garden Depot, and trains will also run outdoors, weather permitting. There will also be craft activities and readings of “The Polar Express.”

Glow in the Garden runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Dec. 29. Admission is $5 per car. Taltree Arboretum and Gardens is at 450 W. County Road 100N.

† Winter weather is here and two companies are offering heated, and seated, ways to comfortably view Chicago’s beautiful lights.

The Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights tour is a 2½-hour tour that starts near the John Hancock Building, cruises down the Magnificent Mile, drives slowly on State Street past Macy’s holiday windows and makes 30-minute stops allowing passengers to explore the Christkindlmarket and Daley Plaza, plus Zoo Lights. Tickets are $26 for adults and $19 for children. Make reservations at www.coachusa.com/chicagotrolley/ or call (773) 648-5000.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation also offers a trolley tour of the city lights. These tours include scenic stops plus information on the city’s history and architecture. Tickets, at $20, can be purchased online at www.architecture.org.



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