Potter Park Zoo hosts fall fun with Zootacular

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Jenny Wagemann teaches Larabel's three grandchildren to hula hoop

Delphina Yancho

Jenny Wagemann, pictured here with Alison Larabel’s grandchildren, believes that hula hooping is for everyone, not just kids.

Alison Larabel of Traverse City and her three grandchildren from Okemos arrived at Potter Park Zoo on Oct. 9 with no clue of the surprise awaiting them. Potter Park Zoo is a regular favorite of theirs, but this weekend they were met with the park’s fourth annual Zootacular in full swing. 

The event ran from noon to 5pm on Oct. 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23. Potter Park Zoo special projects coordinator Carolyn Forba says the event features activities such as hay bale and string mazes, the “inflatable zone” with five inflatable activities, a black-light glow room and more. Guests were invited to arrive in costume, and could trick or treat at booths hosted by local partners throughout the park.

As Larabel spoke about what they’d seen so far (they spent a long time penguin-watching that day), her grandkids were learning to hula hoop with instructor and performer Jenny Wagemann.

Wagemann has been hula hooping for about 11 years, and teaches yoga with a hula hoop, or yogaround, as well as performing with various groups including the Flames & Dames Performance Group.

Wagemann is at various Potter Park Zoo events throughout the year, on her own and with groups, and her goal is to encourage kids (and adults) to play and move their bodies. 

Wagemann said, “What else are you gonna do on an autumn day? Why not come for a stroll and walk through, see some community, [and] play.”

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