For the past 50 years, the Karr family has been meeting at Lincoln Park Zoo each Thanksgiving morning. It’s an amazing tradition, though the origin is hardly grand.
“My wife was cooking the meal, our kids were underfoot and she wanted them out of the house,” says Arnold Karr when asked how this ritual began a half century ago, when the young family lived in Chicago. “So I took them over to Lincoln Park Zoo.”
Last Thursday, Arnold and Pat Karr hosted 17 descendents for their Thanksgiving zoo trip. These days there are Karrs, Levys and Taylors—adult children, in laws and grandkids.
“Lincoln Park Zoo is a marvelous place, one of the best-kept secrets in the world,” says Arnold from his Northfield home. “The kids have so many wonderful memories.”
“This is one of the delights in my lifetime,” adds Pat, who long ago learned to prepare most of the Thanksgiving meal the night before so she can join the party at the zoo, which the family follows by football viewing and hot dog eating before the turkey dinner.
While many families tour the zoo on Thanksgiving, this year the Karr clan was easy to spot. They donned matching, yellow T-shirts that explained—courtesy of a poem penned by granddaughter Rachel Levy—the backstory of this rich tradition:
In 1960 three went to the zoo
By 2010 to 19 we grew
It’s our family tradition
That will always be living
To go to the zoo
On the day of Thanksgiving
10 o’clock sharp to the zoo we go
Representing love for the world to know
By noon its time for pre-dinner lunch
Hot dogs and football for this crazy bunch
On this holiday we will always be here
See you next year!