Christmas at the Zoo is a favorite holiday activity in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the country to decorate during the Christmas season with a holiday lights event. That groundbreaking idea was first accomplished in 1967. Now in its 49th year, Christmas at the Zoo has become a “must do” activity in Indianapolis during December.

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One of the Amur tigers. We saw this magnificent animal before the sun set.

The zoo is open on specific days for the holiday festivities. Refer to the Christmas at the Zoo website for dates and times. It is best if you plan to get to the zoo early in the afternoon while it is still light. This gives you a chance to visit those animals that are hardy and active during December, as well as the indoor displayed critters. Two Dolphin Presentations are offered each evening.

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New this year is the marvelous “Tunnel of Lights”

As dusk approaches and the sun sets the zoo magically turns into a winter wonderland. Thousands and thousands of LED lights begin to shine as the zoo darkens after sunset. Officially starting at 5:00 PM, the Christmas at the Zoo activities offer a variety of things to see and do.

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Plants and animals in lights

New this year is Santa’s Village. This delightful wonderland brings the chance to meet Mrs. Claus in her kitchen and decorate a Christmas cookie. Enjoy the Snowflakery mirror maze, see reindeer and grab a hot drink at the Peppermint Twist beverage hut. And of course you can visit with Santa himself in Santa’s Study. Seeing Santa is free and photo packages are available.

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A very colorful peacock!

This year the zoo has added thousands of additional lights. There are animals, plants and Christmas decorations made out of lights scattered all through the zoo grounds. Be sure to walk through the new “Tunnel of Lights” in the Bicentennial Pavilion. Also of note is the transformation of the Kroger Splash Park into the All-A-Glow Light Show. Watch the lights blink to the Christmas music!

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It seemed like this brown bear was posing for our camera

Check your December calendar and the weather and plan a trip to Christmas at the Zoo, 2017 version. This is a unique opportunity to not only visit with Santa, but to enjoy a beautiful holiday light show and see zoo animals too! Here is the Christmas at the Zoo website.

 

 

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Honoring Indianapolis Colt’s Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning was quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts for 13 seasons. On October 7, 2017, Manning was honored with the unveiling of a larger than life statue of Number 18  on the north plaza outside Lucas Oil Stadium.

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Peyton in bronze, 9 feet tall!

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Details of the remarkable records of a remarkable man

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True to life, Peyton always looking for his receiver

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Peyton captured in a pose so well known to his many fans

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Lucas Oil Stadium, also known as the House that Peyton built

Indy’s White River Trail aka Wapahani Trail

The White River runs from northeast to southwest as it winds through Indianapolis. Adjacent to a little over 10 miles of the river in the central portion of the city is a delightful asphalt paved trail. The trail is suitable for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. Canoeing and kayaking is popular on the river adjacent to the trail.

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Indy skyline , the trail visible at bottom of picture

The White River Wapahani Trail is a work in progress. (Wapahani is the Delaware Tribe’s name for the river.) The north trail head can be found near the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the famous Crown Hill Cemetery. The trail runs south and currently ends on Raymond Street, south of I-70.

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Beautiful winding path of the trail

Many interesting places are located on or very near to the trail. Among them are the White River State Park, Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens with a large greenhouse, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of Native American History, and the IMAX theater. Of course downtown Indy offers the Circle Center Mall, Indiana Repertory Theater and tons of restaurants and bars.

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Geese are among the many species of wildlife that make the White River environment home

Currently the trail connects to the Canal Walk downtown and the Fall Creek Trail. Access to the Monon Trail and the cross town St. Claire street walkway add to the diversity of the Wapahani. In addition, plans are in place to connect to the Eagle Creek and Pleasant Run Trails.

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That is Lucas Oil Stadium, left on the horizon, home of the Indianapolis Colts

The trail is home to many species of birds. Ducks and geese are commonly seen. Great Blue herons are also regular residents of the river. Careful observations may reveal osprey, many types of hawks and golden eagles. Deer, coyotes and red fox are also inhabitants of the river environment.

Check out further information on the White River Greenway official website.

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Indy’s Beef & Boards final Christmas variety show

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre is presenting for the 25th and final year the beloved A Beef & Boards Christmas variety show running now through December 23rd. Once again the immensely popular Indianapolis dinner theater presents for its audience a lively and spirited production that is guaranteed to bring you and yours into the Christmas spirit.

Both acts of the show feature favorite numbers.  Ron Morgan, director and choreographer and artistic director Eddie Curry have put together a vibrant and enthusiastic treat of both sight and sound. The choreography is superb, the music awesome, and the costuming is breathtaking.

Rocking Around The Christmas Tree

“Rocking around the Christmas Tree” with Kenny and Renée, center, flanked by the B&B Quartet

Doug Stark’s version of Santa frankly steals the show whenever he is on stage. He is the owner of Beef & Boards, and is having way too much fun during the B&B Christmas show. His Santa will bring a smile to your face as well as make you laugh out loud to rim shot worthy humor. Santa also greets children for selfies at intermission!

Santa and dancers

Santa and dancers

Renée Jackson, fresh from her starring role in the B&B show Ghost, The Musical, is the featured singer. Kenny Shepard has been in the past 24 productions and hosts this years show. The B&B Quartet is comprised of past favorites Kyle Durbin, Betsy Norton, and Peter Scharbroug as well as Marisa Rivera who starred in West Side Story.

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The Chipmunks (Alvin still wants a hula-hoop)

Once again the B&B orchestra showcases the range of the talent shared by this remarkable group of musicians. Conductor Kristy Templet and her collegues both accompany the singers but also perform several instrumental numbers throughout the production.

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You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch

The easiest way to tell you about the 2017 version of A Beef and Boards Christmas would be to simply state “Don’t miss your chance to see this fabulous Christmas variety show”. I’ll ad the great singing, dancing, and music. Also, you for sure want to see Alvin, Simon and Theodore and of course Rudolph flying across the stage. (Yes, he really flies!) And don’t forget that mean ‘ol Grinch. Oh, and Chef Odell’s holiday buffet is one of, if not the best he has ever put together.Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Now for the details: for reservations, call the Beef & Boards box office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. For complete show schedule and other pertinent information, visit the B&B website.

 

Visit Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis

Infamous bank robber John Dillinger's family marker

Infamous bank robber John Dillinger’s family marker

Crown Hill Cemetery is on the near Northwest side of Indianapolis. It was first created as a cemetery during the Civil War, and eventually two different National Cemetery areas were established. The grounds are beautiful and host many visitors all year long.

The facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the burial site of a President (Benjamin Harrison) and a notorious bank robber (John Dillinger). Other notable burials include poet James Whitcomb Riley, Col. Eli Lilly, three U.S Vice Presidents, 14 U. S. Senators and 11 Indiana Governors. The cemetery grounds are noted for the beauty and solitude that offer visitors a place to run, walk, bike or even have a picnic.

View from James Whitcomb Riley's grave: Indy skyline

View from James Whitcomb Riley’s grave: Indy skyline

National Cemetery, Union Soldiers

National Cemetery, Union Soldiers

Oliver Morton, Indiana Governor during the Civil War

Oliver Morton, Indiana Governor during the Civil War

The Gothic Chapel

The Gothic Chapel

Beef & Boards takes you Into the Woods

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre ventures into new territory this fall with its production of Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical version of classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. This production first hit the Broadway stage in 1987 with multiple Tony Awards to its credit. Disney made a movie of the tale in 2014.

This striking production takes beloved fairy tales through two different stages. The first act brings the familiar story lines to the audience with music and clever comedy. Cinderella wants to attend the “festival”, Little Red Ridinghood is off to Granny’s house with a basket of goodies, Jack (of beanstalk fame) wants his cow to give milk and the baker and his wife want a baby. Rapunzel is also looking for a suitor to save her from her life in the tower. Happily ever after comes at the conclusion of Act 1.

Act 2 explores what occurs after “Happily Ever After”. Decisions have consequences is the theme of the often dark side of the continuation of the story lines. Let me just say that events that occur in Act 2 do not always fit into a “Happily” ever after definition.

The live orchestra brings vibrant music to the many songs performed for this production. The acting is superb with realistic character development. The set design for the woods is moody to fit, including the moving turntable that gives the illusion of the characters covering long distances as they weave in and out through the trees. You’ll feel the impact of the footsteps of the giants as well!

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The costumes both set the stage and fit the characters. Of special note is the incredible makeup for the Witch. Her face will bring an unsettling vision to your eyes. Likewise the frightening presentation of the Wolf as he stalks Red Riding Hood will both delight and scare.

Please note that this performance is recommended for audiences age 13 and above.

Into the Woods is on stage through Nov. 20 in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $41 to $66 and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet and select beverages. Parking is always free. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. Go to the Beef & Boards website for complete details.

Beef and Board Dinner Theatre – Crazy for You

B&B media photo from Crazy for You

B&B media photo from Crazy for You

I’m enjoying the warm weather and know my friends and family back in Indiana are having some very cold weather right now. But, I’m sad we are going to miss Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre presentation of Crazy for You. Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre is one of our favorite places to go when we are in Indiana. They always have great shows and a delicious buffet. Playing now through April 4th is the award winning show Crazy for You. We have never been disappointed at Beef and Boards and we have went to almost all of their shows for the last 4 years. That is how much we like them and why I’m sad at missing this show. We will be back in time to see The Drowsy Chaperone. If you’re around Indianapolis, this is a for sure place to go to. Visit the website at Beef and Boards and my Examiner article by clicking here.