From a festive display of holiday lights to animals galore in the Deer Forest to Santa’s Village, Hollywild Animal Preserve has been bringing the spirit of the season to the Upstate for 30 years.
Although their 30th anniversary celebration looks a little different than in years past, the owners feel that guests will still enjoy the experience just as much. I was fortunate enough to speak with Lucia Meeks, assistant director, about a few of the changes that they have implemented this year to keep within recommended guidelines of the pandemic.
She explained that while they were not able to open Santa’s Village this year, they did double the size of their Deer Forest. Lucia’s husband and co-owner, David, has built 22 new corrals and enclosures in the Deer Forest for this Christmas season. These corrals allow guests to drive their vehicles up alongside to still get up close and personal with their favorite furry residents.
While guests must remain in their vehicles at all times this year, Santa is standing by at the end to speak with the children at their car window and hand out a small treat.
Gates open at 6:00 and the reserve closes at 9:00, though they will allow everyone in line by that time to drive through the safari. They urge guests to come earlier in the week rather than later to avoid long wait times and ask for patience as they have been experiencing a much greater volume of traffic than normal. Lucia’s suggestion was to make an evening of it with a picnic or movie in your car to pass any wait times you may have.
Their sincerest hope is to provide adults and children alike with a reprieve from the stress and uncertainty of the outside world, even if just for a few hours.
The Holiday Lights Safari will run daily through January 2nd and proceeds from this event directly contribute to the care of the animals who call Hollywild home. Tickets are $7 per person (ages 2 and over) for general admission and an additional $10 per vehicle for admittance into the Deer Forest.
For additional information on the Holiday Lights Safari, please use hollywild.org or their Facebook Page.