Beauty and beasts
(Times photo – Chris Burnside)
Zoo Boo uncages loads of fun
By Shondiin Silversmith
WINDOW ROCK, Oct. 31, 2013
(Times photo – Chris Burnside)
Some 3,600 people chose to kick off their Halloween early with some family fun activities at the Navajo Nation Zoo.
What made this year's Zoo Boo different from previous years' was the pumpkin carving contest where people got to show off their creativity through a pumpkin.
"We've always supplied pumpkins and a carving station at this event, but this was the first year that we made it a competition," Navajo Nation Zoologist David Mikesic said, adding that the response was great and 58 pumpkins were entered in the competition.
This year's winners were Kah Hoswoot of Many Farms, Ariz., Myla Barney from Navajo, N.M. and Tina Begay from Lupton, Ariz.
Pumpkins weren't the only attention-grabber this year because hundreds of people came to show off their Halloween costumes in hopes of being the best in the seven different judged costume categories.
Mikesic said the judges for the costume contest were looking for originality, creativity and overall presentation of the costume.
A few of the categories included the best Disney character where kids aged 3 to 15 represented their favorite characters.
First place went to "Beast" from "Beauty and the Beast." The boy behind the beast was 3-year-old Brighten Thompson, who was there with his family. His sister Kirra Thompson dressed as Belle.
"Today's just about getting out interacting with the kids and letting them have fun," Amber said, adding that Zoo Boo is a great event to wear out any kid for a good nap.
Another category was best animal and this year's second-place winner included some chubby cheeks, a fluffy tail and bright yellow shirt. Five-year-old Sheldon Peterson from Rock Springs, N.M. showed off his chipmunk costume.
Peterson said it felt good winning the costume contest and enjoyed the prizes he won.
Peterson's dad Henson said this was the fourth year they've attended Zoo Boo and they look forward to coming back each year.
During Zoo Boo, Mikesic said he heard a lot of comments from people in attendance "on how much fun the zoo events are, and (they) are glad that everything can be provided for free. We had a lot of participation in our activities."
But it wasn't only Zoo Boo attendees who praised the event, Mikesic said -- they also had "a number of zoo Facebook friends thank us for hosting the event, and thank the zoo staff for the hard work they do for the animals and for the Navajo people."
More than 500 bead crafts were completed, and more than 200 families had their pictures taken at the free Zoo Boo photo booth.
Marquita Nez from Buffalo Springs, N.M. brought out her husband and her four boys dressed up as The Avengers. She said this was the first time her family has been to the Zoo Boo and it was a wonderful event.
Zaquarius, 10, was Hulk; Anthony, 7, was Iron Man; Tahj, 6, was Captain America and Crayven, 2, was supposed to be Thor but forgot his costume.
"It's very encouraging and we'd like to see more things like this go on so our kids can get involved," said Lionel Patterson, Nez' husband, adding that his kids were very enthusiastic about the day seeing the animals and doing different crafts.
"We'll definitely come next year," Nez said.
Fellow first-timers Andrea Ashley from Sawmill, Ariz. and Geraldine Rone from Window Rock also brought out their kids to enjoy the festivities Zoo Boo had to offer.
"It's something for the kids to do instead of staying inside playing games and watching TV," Rone said.
Mikesic added that what made this year's Zoo Boo a successful event was "seeing the people come and show their appreciation for the Navajo zoo, and to have a fun day here. My hope is that the Navajo people embrace the zoo as their own, and take pride in being the only Native American nation with its own zoo."
But he wants people to know that each major zoo event wouldn't be possible without the zoo staff.
"It takes a tremendous amount of effort to plan, organize, and run these events. Staff and volunteers make it all happen," Mikesic said.
Contact Shondiin Silversmith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-871-1138.