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Casey Christie

HolidayLights at CALM.

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CALM HolidayLights display organizer Josh Barnett.

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Grayson Shepherd, left, and his buddy, Austin Wiegel, share an umbrella while it rains before the opening of HolidayLights at CALM.

Visiting the HolidayLights at California Living Museum has become a seasonal tradition for many locals. This year is particularly special as CALM will celebrate the 10th anniversary of HolidayLights.

In the last decade, the event has helped raise funds for the zoo.

"The HolidayLights at CALM has become a great family tradition," said Steve Sanders, chief of staff at Kern County Superintendent of Schools, which manages CALM. "I always like to tell folks that attendance can be a tradition to families, and the event helps support CALM year-round."

The zoo is home to about 250 rescued animals -- bears, felines, birds, reptiles and more -- that are native to California but can no longer be returned to the wild. CALM, which opened in 1983, depends on donations and the revenue from the HolidayLights to keep running throughout the year.

Donations from last year's HolidayLights, for example, helped CALM build a new exhibit for the desert bighorn sheep, which opened Nov. 15. CALM officials hope to build other exhibits with financial support.

"All the fundraisers help CALM continue to grow and thrive," Sanders said.

The seasonal attraction showcases a variety of animal displays encompassing about 2 million lights throughout the zoo; some lights are being replaced with brighter LED lights this year. The credit for these beautiful displays goes to Josh Barnett's "Lightasmic" and his team that work with CALM every year to make the event truly shine. (Read more on Barnett in the sidebar.)

Also this year, HolidayLights will use brand-new pink LED lights, and new displays including a crab reef.

Families and children can also enjoy the free carousal and the Central California Children's Railroad, which visitors can ride as many times as they'd like. While enjoying the attractions, visitors can walk through the snowy pathway.

Teen Challenge, a nonprofit rehabilitation program, will provide apple dumplings, kettle corn, apple cider and other popular treats.

CALM was voted "best attraction" in Bakersfield Life's "Best Of" poll in 2012. Last year, about 51,000 visitors attended HolidayLights -- a record for CALM. Officials are hoping that number increases this year.