For the first time in my life, I had a reason to go to Audubon Zoo’s Happy Zoo Year’s Eve! Friends of ours, the Palmer family – mom, dad and four girls ranging in age from 9 to just a few months – were in from Tampa, Florida for Christmas and leaving New Year’s Day, so the Zoo’s noon countdown and toast with Terrance Simien seemed like the perfect thing for all of us to do.

It began at 10:30 a.m., and the main stage performances and activities ended at 1:30 p.m. I walked in right before the countdown started (which means I had missed: a juggler, hula hoops, Sohlid Gold’s “Pop n’ Lock” “Freeze Style Dance”, “exploring movement with Coach Josh”, the Slidell Skippers, the Fat City Drum Corps, a photo op of Drew Brees and his family at the Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese Truck, a meet and greet with “your favorite ice princesses and princes” and a whole lot more).

The toast happened promptly at noon with “Pepsi drinks,” party hats and noise makers. The oldest among the girls in our group looked at us askance as the countdown started and said she didn’t understand why all the adults were so enthusiastic. Well, I answered, it’s New Orleans, and we can always find a reason to celebrate.

After the toast we moseyed all around the zoo in the path laid out for us by the girls. Mostly the animals were asleep, cold and indifferent to all the children and adults crowded around their homes, or all of the above. But even the ones pretending to be asleep, legs akimbo, inspired shouts of glee, like the one I heard in front of the gorilla pictured below: “Mom, look! He’s doing yoga just like you do!”

By 3 p.m. I was exhausted, sticky from Roman Candy, sweaty from running up and down Monkey Hill – and quite happy.


Photos by Mike Griffith and Morgan Packard