Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zoo offers holiday shopping experience

Nashville Zoo visitors can experience a Victorian Christmas or do a little Christmas shopping during two of the zoo's upcoming holiday events. The zoo's Grassmere Historic Home is offering yuletide tours, Dec. 13-14 and 20-21. The home will be decorated for the holidays with greenery, ribbons and vintage decorations that belonged to Margaret and Elise Croft, former tenants of the Grassmere property and whose family owned the land and home for five generations. "We have a number of Christmas items, such as 19th-century ornaments, gift tags and other artifacts that Margaret and Elise collected over the years," said Tori Mason, the zoo's historic farm manager, in a news release. "The tour not only highlights these items but also explains some of that time period's traditions that we still honor today," Mason said. Tours will start at 10 a.m. and run on the half hour, with the last tour starting at 3 p.m. Tours of the home are included with zoo admission. To take the tour, guests are asked to assemble on the home's front porch where the tour guide will meet them. The Nashville Zoo's Zoofari Market, which will take place from 5-8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 11, will offer shoppers up to 25 percent off all merchandise in the zoo's gift shop. The zoo will close as normal at 4 p.m., but its entrance gates will remain open for gift shop customers. There is no zoo admission fee to attend this after-hours event. Non-zoo members attending the event will receive 15 percent off all merchandise, and Nashville Zoo members will receive 25 percent off. Shoppers will be treated to holiday snacks and candies along with cider, hot chocolate and coffee while they shop. A professional pianist will play holiday favorites, and gift-wrapping will be available for a minimal fee. "This is our way of showing appreciation to our zoo's supporters," said Jessica Marth, retail operations manager for Service Systems Associates, Inc., the company that operates the zoo's gift shops and concessions. "We're offering a relaxed and inviting shopping experience away from the normal holiday hustle and bustle," she said. Nashville Zoo members may also take advantage of the special 25 percent discount on all merchandise Dec. 13 and 14 during normal zoo hours, which are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. —SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD

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