Brookfield Zoo lights up the night

Visit “Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running lights festival featuring over a million twinkling LED lights” during the 39th Annual Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St. in Brookfield. 

The events runs Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 20 and Saturday through Thursday, Dec. 26 to 31, from 3 to 9 p.m. The zoo is not open prior to 3 p.m. on Holiday Magic days.

The display includes a 600-foot-long tunnel with thousands of colored lights synchronized to music, a 20-foot-lit orb ideal for picture-taking, a 41-foot-tall tree and larger-than-life LED animal sculptures. Pose with a life-size cutout of Santa and at other selfie frames. Letters to Santa can be dropped off in a giant red box on the south mall.

Participate in a gnome scavenger hunt and enjoy festive foods, such as hot chocolate, spiced wine and cinnamon sugar pretzels while strolling past the 660 decorated trees, many with homemade ornaments. 

Advance admission and parking tickets are required. Buy tickets at the Brookfield Zoo website. Click here for more info.

Mall hosts holiday toy drive

North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, will host a holiday toy drive to support those struggling to make the holidays merry and bright this season. 

The collection will benefit families of The Children’s Center of Cicero-Berwyn, which works to provide educational childcare and parent-child development programs for more than 950 local families, many with low income and other risk factors. 

Guests who bring a new, unwrapped toy to North Riverside Park Mall’s center court through Dec. 14 will receive a mall coupon book. 

Visit the North Riverside Park Mall website for more info.

Santa’s Mailbox returns to Riverside 

Santa’s Mailbox is back and ready to receive letters from local kids, courtesy of the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation, just east of the historic water tower at 10 Pine Ave. in downtown Riverside.

All letters received through Dec. 20 will get a letter back from Santa. Be sure to include a mailing address, so Santa knows where to send his reply.

Ketchup? On a hot dog? 

Brookfield Public Library invites you to celebrate the Chicago dog on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. when author Denis Foley talks about his newest book “No Ketchup” and the city’s hot dog obsession.

The program is presented via Zoom. Register at the libary’s online calendar page or by calling 708-485-6917, ext. 130.

I got a lot of problems with you people

Become an expert on Festivus, the silly Dec. 23 “holiday” celebrated – with an airing of grievances, feats of strength and the all-important Festivus pole — in the TV show “Seinfeld” and learn about its origins and place in popular culture during “The Irony of Festivus,” a special Zoom presentation by Kelli Marshall on Monday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Register to attend by calling the Brookfield Public Library at 708-485-6917, ext. 130 or at the library’s online calendar page.

And more

• Loyola Medicine’s Men’s Health Center will host a free virtual seminar on men’s health, including diet, exercise and urinary and sexual health concerns on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. Registration is required at Loyola Medicine’s website. Spouses, partners and friends are welcome to attend.

• Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation invites you to register for Around Riverside in 80 Days, challenging you to get out there every day through Feb. 14 and walk, run or bike any distance to stay healthy this winter. Register to participate by clicking here and receive a sweatshirt of your choice.

• Riverside Arts Center invites you to bring art home with a Paint Your Own Pottery box. Choose either a platter or serving bowl and receive a box containing everything you’ll need to create a painted masterpiece. Kits are $50 (non-members $55) and you can order online at the Riverside Arts Center website. RAC will arrange for delivery or pick up of your box on your specified day.

• Celebrate those who make the West Suburban Special Recreation Association hum during the WSSRA Celebration of Stars virtual benefit through Friday, Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. The celebration includes a silent auction, raffle, opportunities to make donations and more. View auction items, register and more by visiting the WSSRA website.

• North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave., is offering the following virtual programs through Facebook Live, conference calls and the teleconferencing app Zoom. Programs include Makerspace Mondays on the first and third Mondays of the month at 7 p.m. and Talented Tuesdays on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 5:30 p.m. both via Facebook Live on North Riverside Public Library’s Facebook page; and Game Night Wednesdays every Wednesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

For kids, there are the following Zoom programs: ABCs and 123s on Mondays at 10:30, Stories and Sharing on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.; and Lego Builders Club on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m.

Register by calling 708-447-0869, ext. 230 or at the Youth Services registration page online.

• Brookfield Public Library offers virtual classes and programs for patrons of all ages throughout the week. Most youth activities will be presented live on the library’s Facebook page.

There’s also Chair Yoga via Zoom on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. Register for Zoom access info by visiting the library’s online calendar page or calling 708-485-6917, ext. 130.