Van Saun County Park
The Van Saun Park Entrance Sign
|Location||Paramus and River Edge, New Jersey, United States|
|Owner||Bergen County Department of Parks|
|Public transit access||NJ Transit bus: 168, 752|
Van Saun County Park's location is in Paramus and River Edge, New Jersey. Operated by the Bergen County Parks Department, the park is home to the Bergen County Zoological Park. In addition, the park features picnic areas, a baseball field, a softball field, basketball and tennis courts, a soccer field, a playground, a carousel, and pony rides. The zoo is open all year round and charges admission from May to October. The zoo also features a ridable miniature railroad known as the Safari Express.
The park, most notably the zoo, was slated for a major expansion as of 2016, which would nearly double the size of the zoo from 12 to 23 acres and significantly diversify its population of animal species, as well as add an ice-skating rink and expand automobile parking capacity at the park by hundreds of spaces.
The zoo opened in 1960. Its railroad, the Van Saun Park Railroad, was first built in 1963 and features three trains: the 388 train, which accompanied the opening, the 389 train, purchased in 1968, and the 520, added to the lineup in 1971. The train models are Iron Horse S-24 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge trains by the Allan Herschell Company. The train is open from Tuesdays through Sundays (weather permitting) and closed Mondays for maintenance, unless it falls on a holiday, between April and October. The train passengers view the many different attractions in the zoo while going through railroad crossings and a tunnel. The train is also open during the Bergen County's Winter Wonderland event, which runs from November through January.
The carousel was built in 2000 when the park built a new train station, a new entrance, and a discovery center for animals. The carousel features horses and other zoo animals as seats. The carousel is open every day except Tuesdays for maintenance. The carousel is also available from April to October as well. The carousel has been controversial since almost all the money earned was kept by the contract owner. Ever since the Golden Horse Carousel at Paramus Park closed in 2013 and the Venetian Carousel at Garden State Plaza closed in 2016, this carousel at Van Saun Park is the last remaining operating carousel in the entire borough of Paramus. The carousel is also open during the Bergen County's Winter Wonderland event, which runs from November through January.
The pony rides are open from April to October too. Riders are taken around a small track where the pony is pulled by an employee.
The playground and athletic fields are open all year round as well.
In 2013, Van Saun opened up a dog park. It consists of two areas. One area is for smaller dogs and the other area is for larger dogs.
- Zoo Boo (or sometimes referred to as Boo at the Zoo)- Held annually in October around Halloween. Includes trick-or-treating in the park, ghost stories, and magic shows. The train also provides evening rides during this event with actors in costumes trying to scare guests.
- Art in the Park- Held annually in October. Artists are judged on their artwork, with cash prizes. Afterward, there is a concert.
- Metro Howl-O-Ween Bassett Bash - Every October, many Basset Hounds dress up in different costumes for Halloween and participate in trick-or-treating and contests. It has been held annually since 1997 and is hosted by the Metro Basset Hound Club.
- Santa visits the Bergen County Zoo - Held annually in December. The guests can pay a visit to Santa Claus, see the animals open up presents from Santa, and listen to musical holiday performances. Also, the train and carousel are operational during this event.
- Van Saun Park Easter Egg Hunt- The park holds its own Easter Egg Hunt annually. Following the egg hunt, there is storytelling and crafts for the children.
- Bergen County's Winter Wonderland- an annual event that is held from November–January that is holiday-themed. In this event, there are attractions such as an outdoor ice rink, a beer garden, Santa's North Pole Workshop, and foods and drink stands. In addition, the train and carousel are operational during this event, weather permitting.
- In 1990, an ocelot seriously injured a boy at the zoo by biting one of his hands. Three years later, another ocelot attacked another boy.
- Todd South (June 9, 2016). "Plan would double size of Bergen County Zoo over next 15 years". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
- Harrington, Shannon D. (September 30, 2003). "Carousel contract taking county for ride, Democrats say". highbeam.com. Bergen Record. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- Harrington, Shannon D. (November 6, 2004). "County stops park carousel over owner's lack of insurance". highbeam.com. Bergen Record. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
-  Dog run opening at Van Saun Park in Paramus - Cliffview Pilot. Accessed July 4, 2015
-  Boo at the Zoo at Van Saun County Park. Accessed July 4, 2015
-  Art in the Park Show & Concert. Accessed July 5, 2015
-  Metro Basset Hound Club to hold Metro Howl-O-Ween Basset Bash on Sun., Oct. 20 | Jersey Dog | NorthJersey.com. Accessed July 5, 2015
-  Holiday Party: Santa visits the Bergen County Zoo at Van Saun Park in Paramus- Featured- Bergen.com. Accessed July 4, 2015
-  Holiday Carousel Rides & Photos With Santa At Van Saun Park - The Paramus Post - Greater Paramus News and Lifestyle Webzine. Accessed July 4, 2015
-  Van Saun Park Easter Egg Hunt. Accessed July 5, 2015
- Bergen County's Winter Wonderland. Accessed November 21, 2016.
-  TWO OCELOT ATTACKS AT ZOO REPORTED IN THREE YEARS. Accessed December 20, 2015.