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The biggest and most romantic ever in 2011

The Zoolights Festival at Lincoln Park Zoo this past holiday season was a record breaker in attendance and Cupid's arrow found its mark at least a half dozen times.

Chicago, IL----The spirit of the season wasn't the only thing in the air at Zoolights Presented by ComEd and Charter One this year. While a record-breaking 365,593 atendees strolled through the zoo's winter wonderland, at least six lucky and lovely ladies found the ultimate surprise in their Christmas stockings...an engagement ring.

The 17th annual Zoolights was bigger, better and brighter than ever, with some 2 million sparkling lights and a host of new attractions, from a shimmering "wall of water" to a couple of new luminous friends on the main promenade.

But perhaps the most exciting twinkle came, not from bulbs, but from stones.

Said Lincoln Park Zoo's Director of Sales and Events, Dana Jussaume, "Six proposals is a lot for us in one Zoolights season. We usually have one or two, but something about this year definitely brought out the romantic side of these guys."

It may have been the warmer weather, which Jussaume cites as one reason for the 33% increase in attendance compared to last year. The 2011 guest count even topped the previous record from 2009, when 324,495 visitors streamed through the gates between Thanksgiving weekend and New Year's Day.

More likely, though, it was the heightened thrill--rather than the decreased chill in the air that came with the biggest ever session of this "engaging" event. Five of the marriage proposals took place during ice-sculpting demonstrations which always attract large crowds.

Creative would-be-fiances' worked with zoo events coordinators and ice carvers to pop the "polar question," in some cases requesting elaborate ice signs emblazoned with their intentions.

Said Jim Nadeau, owner of Nadeau's Ice Sculptures, "It was a good year for brides-to-be. We just brought the couples up on stage, so luckily all the ladies said yes. The audience just went crazy for it." Nadeau's talented carvers have delighted Zoolights crowds every year since the event began.

Hopeless romantics take heart. The conclusion of Zoolights doesn't mean Cupid won't be flying back this way. Join zoo staff on Valentine's Day for one of two special sessions of Wine and Wildlife: Animal Attractions, a saucy just-for-adults event that takes a look at the wild side if wildlife. Learn more at www.lpzoo.org, or call (312) 742-2000.

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