When I think back about all of the memorable events I had as a child, there are a few that stand out as particularly enjoyable. One of those "stand out" moments was my first trip to the zoo. With each of our roots, we wanted them to experience the zoo at an appropriate age so that they, too, could understand and enjoy everything that made it such a great experience for me. With the tiny root being almost 3, we thought the 2017 Boo at the Zoo would be the perfect time to introduce her to one of our favorite places, and the folks at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere were more than happy to help us do that. Boo at the Zoo is an annual fundraising event for The Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial that takes place in the evening time after normal operating hours end. After dark, the entire park becomes a playground for many ghosts and goblins and is crawling with children of all ages dressed in costumes, ready to fill their bags with candy and see what is around each corner. Luckily for us, Nashville is a midway point for our oldest college root and the rest of us to meet, so we were over the moon to have the lumberjack join the kitty cat and Storm Trooper to make this a full-on five alarm Braided Roots event. With it being a Halloween event, I expected a Halloween themed experience, but I was not at all prepared for how much fun this was going to be. Part of the fun was seeing all of the parents and children dressed in their costumes. My Storm Trooper had two things on his mind when we arrived; to seek and destroy candy and to spend some time in the bounce houses. Making our way to the Story Tail Treat Trail, we first stopped at the Enchanted Village where the kids (and adults) could have their picture made with a superhero or princess. The little root was very standoff-ish but with a little coaxing from our lumberjack, she was all in. The Enchanted Village was very interactive with a talking pumpkin, special animal shows, as well as a sleeping Ogre that might wake up from his slumber and entertain you a bit.
After a photo op with Spiderman and Jack Skellington, we made our way to the Story Tail Treat Trail. Everywhere you turned and every path you took was decorated for the event, and the later and darker it became, the better everything looked. The crowd was substantial but the staff and volunteers were amazing and so helpful in making sure you got to where you needed to go. As we made our way through the treat trail, there were several stations where candy was being given out, and each and every volunteer was not only dressed to impress, but their cheerful nature made for an exceptional experience for us. Throughout the trails, there were bubbles....lots and lots of bubbles. The kitty cat and the Storm Trooper loved the bubbles but if you ask me, the lumberjack had just as much fun, and it was hard to pull them away.
After procuring enough candy to satisfy all parties, we made our way to Fall Festival Field where everyone could experience a carnival type atmosphere with a Halloween theme. There were lots of games and activities for everyone to enjoy, and they even transformed the carousel into a "scary go round". One of our favorite activities of the night was the Howl-O-Ween Hayride, which took us around the zoo's backroads where we saw lots of spooky (but not too spooky) stuff. It was a blast, and after walking all evening, the hayride was a welcomed break. While walking around the Fall Festival Field, we could hear lots of fun music and see lights coming from one of the tents, so after the hayride, we made our way over to see what was going on. Much to our surprise, it was a kid’s nightclub complete with colorful strobe lighting and dance music with enough bass to bounce the little root around for a while. I was a bit rusty on my dance moves, but I still managed to cut a rug and do some amazing spins with the little root.
Before calling it a night, my Storm Trooper noticed a zip line. This was the only activity that was not included with the price of admission, but I opted to entertain the idea. I figured once he watched it reach 110 ft and zip back down at almost 30 mph, he would change his mind. Well, he didn't and when someone with two extra tickets offered them to us, I was more than happy to MAKE SHANE DO IT. Are you kidding me? I'm not doing it! I'm pretty sure the moment the stranger handed over the extra tickets, the lumberjack and I started growing feathers and clucking. While the boys stood in line, the girls gave our feet a rest and enjoyed some popcorn, and traded photos of the evening.
Overall, the night was amazing. I know I mentioned it before, but the staff and volunteers couldn't have been better. From the ticket booth operators to the food vendors and everyone in between, they were amazing and you could tell that they were there for a reason, which was to show everyone who attended this fundraising event a fantastic time. The icing on the cake of our evening was coming upon an area set up for taking photos that had a crescent moon behind it. This is particularly special for me because all of the girl roots were born under that same moon. We will for sure be back during regular business hours so that we can introduce the little root to all of the animals because the ones that she was able to see, she loved.