The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will kick off Wild Lights tonight with its annual event of accepting donated canned goods for free admission.

However, though the widely popular holiday event is a wonderful family activity with large numbers in attendance, motorists may find themselves stuck at a standstill in traffic at times.

Delaware County 9-1-1 Director Patrick Brandt is asking people in non-emergency situations not to dial 9-1-1 if they become frustrated with traffic in the vicinity of the Zoo.

Brandt said heavy traffic is not an emergency, but non-emergency calls clogging the emergency lines can create problems.

“We’re aware of the traffic,” Brandt said. “We have people out there to take care of it.”

Brandt said his main concern is “making sure we’re taking care of the people who need the help.”

“It’s a beautiful day out,” Brandt said. “But it’s the perfect storm for 9-1-1.”

Brandt said with the 40-degree temperatures tonight and the forecast of bad weather Saturday, he is expecting an abnormally large number of calls. He is asking people not to call 9-1-1 for non-emergency issues.

“If it were 20 degrees and snowing, we wouldn’t have this problem,” Brandt said. He said the problem isn’t just people calling 9-1-1, but some people will call the Powell Police Department number which is also answered by Brandt and his team.

Brandt said he is bringing in extra people to help manage the large volume of calls.

Columbus Zoo’s Wild Lights will be on display from Nov. 17 to Jan. 1.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.