This is a press release from Essex County. Press releases are official statements that have not been independently verified.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Friday, November 6th that the 2020 Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo has been cancelled because of the Coronavirus.

“Because of the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Holiday Lights Spectacular,” DiVincenzo said. “The lights show has become a much-anticipated holiday tradition for tens of thousands of people. However, with the number of positive cases growing and a new wave of the virus upon us, we decided it was not in the best interest of public health to hold this year’s extravaganza,” he added.

“We wish everyone a happy holiday season and ask that families be thoughtful and cautious if they gather in larger groups to celebrate Thanksgiving and the upcoming winter holidays. We understand residents may be feeling fatigued by the pandemic, but we must continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, get tested regularly and wash our hands. The lives we save will be those of our loved ones,” he added.

The only holiday-themed light display will be located at the entrance to the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo complex on Northfield Avenue. Motorists will be able to see the display as they drive by the complex.

In past years, visitors to the Holiday Lights Spectacular were asked to bring non-perishable food items to Turtle Back Zoo, which were donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Since the event is cancelled, the food drive will not take place. Instead, DiVincenzo encouraged residents to think about the less fortunate and make donations to their local food pantry or the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Please check the Turtle Back Zoo website at www.TurtleBackZoo.com/admission-hours/ for current hours and admission rates. Reservations to visit the zoo must be made by visiting. Turtle Back Zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, five off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.

Essex County continues to offer free COVID testing for Essex County residents. To register and for upcoming dates, please visit www.EssexCOVID.org. Essex County also offers weekly Emergency Food Distributions. For upcoming locations, visit www.EssexCountyNJ.org and click on the “Essex County Emergency Food Distribution Give Away” link.