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National Aviary decks the halls for special holiday programs

Shirley McMarlin
National Aviary
Special holiday programming at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh will include photos with Santa and a penguin helper and Penguin Camp for kids.

The National Aviary invites visitors to make lasting memories this holiday season by viewing new indoor and outdoor light displays and festive décor and partaking of a series of special events.

In addition to regular displays with 500 birds representing 150 species from around the world, the facility in Pittsburgh’s North Side will offer photos with Santa and his penguin helper, a holiday brunch with Santa and Penguin Camp, according to a release.

The aviary also will offer extended evening hours featuring a festive cafe menu, hot chocolate, cider, adult beverages and live holiday music performances, until 9 p.m. on Dec. 13, 20 and 26-28. The gift shop also will offer a 10 percent discount during those hours.

For the first time, the aviary will have light displays on its building and habitats, the release says. Running through early January, the displays will include illuminated snowflakes and festoons of lights and wreaths.

Also new this year are a decorative, oversize Santa chair in the Atrium and a larger-than-life, lighted penguin family in Penguin Point, both suitable as photo backdrops

Special events include:

Photos with Santa and His Penguin Helper , 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22. Guests should bring their own cameras for photos with Saint Nick and one of the aviary’s African penguins. Included with admission.

Brunch with Santa , seatings at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Brunch includes general admission to all aviary exhibits, special bird appearance, children’s craft kit and photos with Santa and a penguin. Fees are $37, $19.50 for ages 4-10, and free to children 3 and under. Space is limited; reservations required at 412-258-9445.

Holiday Camps , available for ages 6-8 on Dec. 27, and ages 9-12 on Dec. 28. Campers will help prepare breakfast for the aviary’s penguin colony, attend a private feeding and learn what makes these endangered birds so special. Space is limited, to register, call 412-258-9439.

Details: 412-323-7235 or

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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