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L.A. Zoo Lights by Sonia Kang | December 07 2017

Contributor: Delia Douglas

We were so excited to be invited to back to L.A. ZOO LIGHTS as it returns for its fourth spectacular year. We attended one weekday night out of the seven weeks of wonder you can enjoy the lights.

Under the stars sets the Zoo aglow with LED lights by the thousands, a disco ball forest, glittering twinkle tunnel, stunning 3-D animated projections and much more.

With a burst of breathtaking new features, this year definitely raises the bar for awe-inspiring nighttime holiday delight, among them a dynamic, musical holiday tree experience, a re-imagined water show, a glittering “North Pole” setting for Santa photos, glowing “Northern Lights” featuring animal constellations that come to life, and an all-new “Wild Wonderland” finale spotlighting endangered and vulnerable species.

L.A. Zoo Lights captivates guests for an ideal family outing, meet-up with friends like we did on this night. We did a self-guided 90-minute walking tour through a large area of the Zoo. Although most animal residents were asleep, we enjoyed a herd of real reindeer in their “Reindeer Village” habitat. Other live animals on view are a multitude of amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles in the LAIR, which also boasts black-lit “insects” scurrying above the rock walls. An inventive collection of animals depicted in lights range from frogs, meerkats, flamingos and monkeys to a glowing savanna with a “stained glass” condor, giraffe, elephant, polar bear, and rhino. We didn’t get to have photos with Santa on the night we were there but he is there on select dates and available for an additional fee in a glittering “North Pole” setting.

We love the event enough to come back year after year! We love the Zoo’s hand-crafted Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel which is open during L.A. Zoo Lights, with $3 per person on-site tickets.

We enjoyed our time at the L.A. Zoo and hope you and your family get a chance to get out check out the lights.

Thank you to the L.A. Zoo for the invitation and tickets for this media event. All opinions are of this contributor.

More information:

Friday, November 17, 2017, through Sunday, January 7, 2018 (except November 23 and December 24/25)

Awarded USA Today’s “10 Best Zoo Lights” honors in 2015 and 2016 – and nominated again for 2017 –,

L.A. Zoo Lights was established by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) as a festive annual tradition to celebrate the Zoo’s important role as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species, a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife and a special place for people of all ages in the world’s entertainment capital.

L.A. Zoo Lights 2017 presents a “Preview Week” with discounted admission of $10 for all ages (under 2 free), available online only for November 17 to 22 dates, an unlimited-visits Season Pass, exclusive HOLIDAY HAPPY HOURS for ages 21-and-up on December 7 and 14 and a popular FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE for all ages. Tickets for members of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association are $10 during the entire run, the deepest member discount ever offered. Memberships are available for purchase at

Returning this year are “VIP Experiences,” including two exclusive HOLIDAY HAPPY HOURs for the 21-and-up crowd – “Flapjacks and Flannel” theme on Thursday, December 7 and “Tamales and Tequila” on Thursday, December 14 – as well as a FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE for all ages. The two HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR evenings feature “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights at 6 pm with a private lounge from 6:30 to 8:30 pm including gourmet hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and specialty cocktails. Tickets for HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR are $75 per person and $70 for GLAZA members. FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE on Sunday, December 31, 6 pm, provides an opportunity to celebrate the coming of 2018 in style with “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, dinner buffet, soft drinks, a glass of complimentary champagne for adults, sparkling apple cider for kids, dessert, a ride on the Conservation Carousel, games, DJ dance party, cash bar and live broadcast of New York’s Times Square ball drop at 9 pm, after which guests are welcome to experience L.A. Zoo Lights until closing. FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children. GLAZA members save $5. Tickets for all three “VIP Experiences” have limited availability, so early purchase is strongly suggested. ” Flapjacks and Flannel” is sponsored by Bushmills’ Red Bush Irish Whiskey, and “Tamales and Tequila” is sponsored by VIVA XXXII Tequila.

Media Sponsor KCRW will be on-site with lawn games and family fun on Thursday, December 7, Wednesday, December 13 and Friday, December 29.

Sponsors of L.A. Zoo Lights include Service Systems Associates, 99 Cents Only Stores, SoCal Honda Dealers, Welk Resorts, Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA and ScholarShare. Media Sponsor is KCRW. Denny’s also joins as a first time sponsor and is offering customers who visit Denny’s locations in the Greater Los Angeles Area a free child’s ticket to L.A. Zoo Lights with the purchase of two paid adult tickets starting November 13 through January 7. Complete offer details available at Denny’s locations.

L.A. Zoo Lights’ production partner is GES Events.

Admission to L.A. Zoo Lights is $10 with online purchase for all ages (2 and older) and times during “Preview Week” from November 17 to 22. Thereafter, admission prices vary and range from $14.95 to $19.95 for adults (13+) and $11.95 to $14.95 for children (2-12). Children under age 2 are free. Tickets for members of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association are $10 during the entire run, the deepest member discount ever offered. A special unlimited-access L.A. Zoo Lights Season Pass, with express entry privileges nightly, is $49.95 for adults and $44.95 for children ages 2 to 12. Tickets for HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR are $75 per person (ages 21 and up), or $70 for GLAZA members. FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE tickets are $69 for adults (13+) and $45 for children (2-12), or $64 and $40 for GLAZA members. Holiday Happy Hour and Family New Year’s Eve benefits require a separate ticket, even for Season Pass holders. All L.A. Zoo Lights events and evenings take place on a “rain-or-shine” basis, with no rain checks issued. Visit for details and to purchase tickets. To become a GLAZA member and receive discounted ticket pricing, go to or call 323-644-4747.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways, at 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027, 323-644-4200. Free parking is available. For additional information about L.A. Zoo Lights, call 866-949-8007; call center hours are 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. For tickets and more, visit

Black in a Japanese Family: Multicultural Holidays by Sonia Kang | December 06 2017

Black in a Japanese Family: Multicultural Holidays

By Tam Luc

When I was a flight attendant I lived in a house full of Hawaiians of Japanese descent. Hawaiian Japanese people are quite different from Japanese nationals. However, the experience exposed me to Asian Americans and made me incredibly comfortable around Japanese people. Maybe that’s why my first husband was Japanese. Once married into his family, I became entrenched in that culture.

Japanese people immigrated to America by way of Hawaii in the late 1800s. Without getting into too much historic detail, my ex-husband‘s father was an atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima. During the war, my ex-mother-in-law, born in the US, was in the internment camps when she was a young girl. As you can imagine, their experience affected their family greatly in uncommunicative ways. Although, I was extremely curious about many of the details of their past, I was never permitted to ask Jichan (grandpa) about the atomic bomb or Hiroshima, so I will just give my observational experience while apart of their family.

Before our son was born, we opted to move out of our apartment and into the house with his family. They had a very big house. It turns out that my ex-husband‘s father‘s family was pretty well off in Japan. We did not experience any of that wealth, which is another story, but we did live in a very nice home in California. Because of this, I lived a traditional Japanese life for ten years. I only met a few cousins from the father’s side of the family but the mother’s side was very close. After the war and after Japanese-Americans were released from the internment camps they were given reparations to help those that lost their homes and their businesses because of the war. Determined to keep the family close, my ex-mother-in-law‘s family bought an apartment building so everyone could stay together. Although that building is gone, the family remained very close, celebrating every occasion together including the most important of Japanese holidays, New Year’s Day, shogatsu. What I noticed was their dedication to making sure these holidays were preserved and passed down to the next generation.

New Year’s Multicultural Traditions

As an American, In the past, New Year’s Day for me was spent nursing a headache from New Year’s Eve. That was the extent of what I knew about it. However, as I became more curious about my culture I started to research how, African-American people celebrated New Year’s day. Especially because my married life was surrounded by Japanese culture, I was determined to make sure my son had a balanced experience of himself.

Some African Americans know anything about our early traditions because they were lost. But I think it’s important because its apart of the black experience and something we should preserve. While I was happy to enjoy the traditional Japanese menu with the family, I also was excited to share a few dishes to educate them on my culture. Graciously they embraced my contribution and added it to the mix.

African American New Years Foods:

My mother’s ancestry comes from the south and they made black-eyed peas with rice (hoppin-John), cabbage or greens with cornbread every New Year’s Eve. My mother didn’t know why but it was passed down from her mother. It turns out that it was all about good luck. There are many other explanations for these tradition but what I learned was both black eyed peas (pennies) and greens resemble US currency. The idea is, if you eat these dishes you will have good luck and prosperity throughout the new year.

In the south, pig ears, feet, intestines and every other pork part is consumed. After slavery, many black Americans learned how to season and make the most of what they had. While not regularly consumed by African Americans today, pork was considered a symbol of health and prosperity because one pig could feed a family throughout the winter.

Japanese New Years Foods:

It turns out that like African Americans, Japanese traditions are very similar. It’s all about good luck and prosperity. I really could go on forever about this topic but here are a few examples:

1. The house must be clean and all food must be cooked before midnight. Any work done on New Year’s day is considered bad luck for the year.

2. First thing in the morning – Sake – Yay – Good Luck for all

3. You must spend the whole day with the people you love

4. The menu: Gobo Kobumaki, Renkon no Nitsuke, Ebi no Shioyaki, Datemaki, Kohaku Namasu and many more.

Every dish has a meaning leading you back to good fortune, good health, prosperity, sunny days, energy, plentiful crop, and happy days ahead.

In Summary: Every culture wants to live a healthy, prosperous and joyous life. New Years represents a new, fresh start for most people leaving behind the pain of the past and celebrating with loved ones. If you have empathy, and pay attention to different cultures you will notice how similar they really are.

Tam Luc is a wife, mother, and best-selling author of her first children’s book, ”There’s Somebody In My Room”. Check it out now on amazon: Link:

Multicultural Holiday Gift Guide by Sonia Kang | November 24 2017

Our multicultural holiday gift guide is chock full of great gift ideas.

This year’s guide features everything from dolls to car seats, books to hair care products.

The guide serves as a resource to parents, caregivers and individuals on awesome gift ideas for children to see adequate representation of their cultural reality.

Our guide is an effort to develop and promote a broad range of brands that are making quality products with an understanding of the multicultural child in mind.

1. Mixed up clothing

6. The Dandelion Teepee

7. Patricia Candido Adornments

9. Brown Crayons

Studies show that children learn about the idea of race and to recognize physical differences at a very early age. This comes from observations and interactions with their parents, playmates, their families, and others so it’s important to fill their environment with items that offer diverse items that reflect the world in which we live.

1. My Family Builders

2. American Girl

3. Mixis Dolls

4. American Girl

5. Lakeshore

6 Elena of Avalor

7. Baby Alive

8. World Globe

Growth in the hair care market is a beautiful testament to our country’s diversity.

The brands that focus on the multicultural child aid in positively shaping the way our children look and feel about themselves.

Positive conversations and examples about different hair types and styles during childhood also promote positive self esteem as children grow into adulthood.

1. Curly Chic Hair Care

Curly Kids Hair Care

2. Mixed Chicks

3. Bonsai Kids

4. Shea Moisture

5. Kids Embrace

6. Mermaid Blends

Conversations about race is important. Research shows that a “color blind” approach is harmful.

Reading books can bring families closer together and foster an open communication between you and your child.

Conversations like these can also help your child better understand and appreciate the similarities and differences among the diverse folks we share the world with.

1. Hats of Faith

2. Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll

3. The Red Pencil

4. Poppy: A Puerto Rican American Flower 

5. Bad Hair Does Not Exist

6. Last Stop on Market Street

7. A Tale of Two Mommies

8. Arroz Con Pollo and Apple Pie

9. ABC Mouse

10. Bino & Fino

11. Science. It’s a Thing

12. It’s Okay To Be Different

13. Good Night Captain Mama: Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá 

14. There’s Somebody In My Room

15. A is for Ackees

16. Lil’ Libros

17. Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide: Educators’ Guide

18. Brown Sugar Fairies

19. Canticos

20. Waggish

21. Twindollicious

The idea of race is a highly charged and sensitive topic in the world right now.

Children are listening so it’s a good time to start talking about race, identity, culture, diversity and inclusion.

Children are curious and open about the world and want to understand similarities and differences.

We encourage you to approach the topic of race openly and without judgement.

We hope the brands and products we shared will help you start the conversations and help our children today and in their future.