Boo at the Zoo a Real Treat
By: Christina Fisanick
Oglebay’s Boo at the Zoo opened for the first time in 1980. I would have been 7 years old then, so it should be part of my Halloween memory bank. My parents thought differently. Back then, Moundsville to Oglebay seemed like an epic journey. Uphill both ways, right? While my school friends shared their stories on Monday mornings of the zoo train darting through the pitch-black tunnel and the bags of delicious treats they received at our zoo’s stations, I felt a lot like Charlie Brown did when he got his rock: left out and disappointed.
I vowed to change that when I became a parent, and I did! My son and I (and our friends) have traipsed our zoo’s hills in the crisp fall air every October since he was born. His costumes have ranged from his favorite lead singer, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant (his third year), to his favorite video game character, Minecraft Steve (his seventh year).
For the first few years, I carried him past Lorikeet Landing over the bridge at the marshes through the red barn and huffing and puffing up the hill past the train tracks. One year, it was freezing cold. Another year, it was raining. Other years, it has been cool and breezy. No matter the weather, we get dressed up and go. It is our favorite fall tradition.
As Oglebay Good Zoo members, we are regular visitors to our zoo and look forward to riding the train, but a day trip on the historic Huntington pales in comparison with a ride in the dark. The normal zoo scenery transforms into shadows as the train slips around the tracks. I indulge him by letting him munch on treats he collected at stations throughout the zoo. We snuggle close and scream with delight as the train enters the dark tunnel — not once but twice — before arriving back at the depot.
Boo at the Zoo is everything I thought it would be when I dreamed of going as a child. I hope my son remembers these October nights wandering through our zoo under the dark of night. I know I will.