Blues! Two big birthdays! Big band sound and big booms! A lot of activities are happening this coming week at the zoo, so take note and make sure you catch the ones that will be special to you and yours!

Starting with the great blues band The Nighthawks on Tuesday evening July 3 and moving into July 4 with the zoo's 85th birthday celebration, followed by a patriotic concert by the municipal band, and culminating in fireworks watching from the west green, "it's all happening at the zoo!" We'll also have some special hours for these two days, so be aware of that as well if you are headed our way.

Start your Independence Day holiday out right with a fun evening of live music at the zoo. Based out of Washington, D.C., The Nighthawks are known worldwide for their legendary blues and rock roots. Tickets are just $10 and kids 5 and younger are free, an unbeatable deal for this talented foursome! And what goes better with "Blues At The Zoo" than some mouth-watering barbecue, cold beer and other tasty treats? This year we will have three barbecue vendors, plus snacks from the Safari Shoppe and chilling smoothies from Patrick Dugan's Coffee House. The zoo closes at 5 p.m., and our southwest gate opens at 6 p.m. for the concert. The Nighthawks hit the stage at 7 p.m. with their great mix of music. Lawn chairs or blankets are recommended.

The summer celebration of Lee Richardson Zoo's 85th birthday party is set for July 4 from 3 to 6 p.m. Bring the whole family for a special zoo experience, and watch some of our animals enjoy icy treats, take in a keeper chat, check out the activities on the green outside Wild Asia's Moon Gate, and visit our special booths to make a wild birthday card, learn about carnivorous plants, how to become a zoo friend, how to pick the perfect pet for you and more. Bring a picnic dinner and stay to take in some good old patriotic tunes on our nation's birthday. At dark (around 10 p.m.), the community fireworks will kick off south of the fairgrounds, and you can have a great vantage point from which to watch from the zoo's west green. For the safety of our animals, remember fireworks are not permitted inside the zoo.

The zoo will remain open through the fireworks, with free vehicle admission after 6:30 p.m. Please enter through the Fourth Street vehicle entrance until 8 p.m., and if you arrive after that, the Fifth Street gate will be open for entry.

If you have questions, need to know where to buy tickets or want more information on any of these happenings, please contact the zoo at 276-1250 or visit www.leerichardsonzoo.org.