UTICA — With Santa to visit and free food to eat, the Utica Zoo’s Holiday Hoot was, well, a hoot.

On Friday morning, families were able to work on arts and crafts, and even pet some of the zoo’s animals during the annual event in the zoo's auditorium.

The event is a popular one, if the limited availability of the tickets is any indication. Lisa Martin, the zoo’s event coordinator, said they sold out of tickets quickly after opening them up to the public about a month ago.

"We even had families call (Friday) after we were sold out begging to be able to get in," Martin said. "Unfortunately, we just didn't have the space."

Two sessions of 42 people at 9 and 11 a.m. were slated to attend the event, and Immovable Feast provided food for both sessions.

"It was a nice group effort to put it all together," said Mark Simon, marketing coordinator at the Utica Zoo.