This weekend marked the opening of the annual Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, running through Dec. 30. Admission is free.

Turtle Back Zoo has been turned into a “winter wonderland,” with seasonal lighting exhibits and costumed characters. Over one million lights illuminate figures of bears, tigers and elephants, along with holiday lights designed to look like wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes. Several animal exhibits will be open, including the Sea Lion Sound, Essex Farm, Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve, Tropical Currents Aquarium and the Reptile Building.

Visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, new unwrapped toys, and new and gently used winter coats to help families in need.

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