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BOO AT THE ZOO
1 November 2006
Spiderman was cranky. He had a decision to make and it was frustrating. Did he want the glittery dinosaur, the rainbow colored Beany bear, or Winnie the Pooh wearing a bunny suit?
I spent last evening at the Sacramento Zoo, volunteering at something called "Boo at the Zoo," an event for little kids, with games and prizes, lots of treats and I don't think any tricks.
The Yolo SPCA was running the "pumpkin bowling" activity, where little vampires, Jedi knights, princesses, superheroes and monsters rolled melon-sized pumpkins down a short, lighted lane to knock over six plastic bowling pins.
After they had their turn on the lanes, they got to go to the prize table and select a stuffed animals (we had 13 garbage bags filled with stuffed animals from the SPCA thrift shop). It didn't make a difference whether they had hit anything with their pumpkin or not--everybody got a stuffed animal.
We each were told to wear SPCA shirts (a walk-a-thon shirt would do) and our "theme" was royalty, so we were supposed to wear crowns or tiaras in our hair.
It was an interesting experience. The early groups to arrive (the event ran from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.), brought the tiny kids with the attentive parents, the ones who were quietly reminded by Mommy or Daddy to say "thank you" after we let them take their stuffed animal prize.
As the hour got later, more parents came in costume. It takes time to gather together a duck costume, for example, and a lot of chutzpah to carry it off!! A 300 lb man in a white dress, platinum blonde wig and angel wings assured me he wasn't really an angel. A mother wearing the same princess dress and crown as her daughter explained that dressing up was not her thing, but she had done it because her daughter wanted her to. She seemed to be having a ball.
There were also a few older kids who tried to sneak back for their second or third toy, and very upset when they were told that they could bowl all they wanted, but could only take one toy.
Harry Potter was particularly unhappy when I remembered he had been there before and wouldn't let him take a second animal (though I suspect it was maybe a third animal).
A father wasn't happy when I wouldn't let him take a stuffed animal for his infant child, who was totally hidden in a stroller and too young to either bowl a pumpkin or appreciate a stuffed animal...and we were down to our last dozen or so animals already.
One parent casually swept a small toy into her bag when she thought I wasn't watching and then made a great display of searching on the table for the "one" toy her child was allowed to take. Isn't it nice when parents are such good examples for children?
(I don't know how many stuffed animals we had, but we ran out and had to switch to big caldrons of candy, which the Zoo also supplied, to give out.)
My favorite costume was this little girl wearing a Snoopy costume with a head much bigger than her own. Her Dad seemed to be more into the whole spirit of the event than she was.
And then there was the fairy witch. That's only my guess of what she was. She was dressed all in black with a black witch's hat, but iridescent netting over her hat and around her middle like a tutu. The fairy witch was definitely not happy. She had chosen a small sea horse and her mother spied a little rabbit, which was one of the Beatrix Potter characters and asked if maybe the little girl might not like the bunny instead. The little girl didn't want the bunny, but thought her mother wanted her to choose that. All she wanted was the sea horse, but she didn't want to disappoint her mother, even though her mother kept assuring her that she didn't care, that the choice was the little fairy witch's choice (oh did I remember scenes like that with Paul!). At one point, the child, tears streaming down her face, gulping for air, wailed, "I'm feeling sad!" Both parents tried to comfort her, while the mother rolled her eyes at me. Ultimately the fairy witch went home with the sea horse, still crying because she felt she had disappointed her mother.
Our additional help was late arriving because of two accidents on the freeway which I had apparently just managed to avoid. When there was extra help, I took off and made a tour of the perimeter of the zoo so I could see all the other activities going on. That's when I came upon the Flamingo Rumble.
I don't know if there is always a lot of fighting going on at suppertime in the flamingo enclosure, but there was certainly a kertuffle going on when I walked by.
It got colder as the night wore on. I am not yet into "fall" emotionally, and so was still wearing my Birkinstock sandals, my SPCA t-shirt, and a lightweight jacket. I was freezing. I finally decided to walk down and cash in my volunteer food ticket, which would get me a hot dog, chips, and a soft drink.
The hotdog itself was about 6" long and kind of disappeared into the normal size bun (which, having sat out for hours by now, was stale and dry). The chips were crispy Cheetos, which are always good, and water which was great, but waaay too cold for sitting outside with a cool breeze blowing. I ate the chips, about 1/4 of the hot dog (the first bite was all bun because I hadn't gotten to the actual meat yet!) and actually felt a bit nauseated, perhaps because I also nibbled some of the treats in the witch's cauldron as well.
All things considered, it was a fun evening, even if it was the more negative things that are more fun to talk about. Such a diversity in the kids' costumes (lots of padded muscles for the super heroes--Ned would have loved that in his Superman days!) and a surprising number of parents who dressed up too.
But I was glad when we ran out of toys and things seemed to be winding down so I could leave. I left with two of the other volunteers, who walked me to my car, so I didn't have to walk across the dark parking lot alone. I was definitely ready to come home.
I spent the earlier part of the day going through the 600 trip pictures and uploading the best to Flickr. There are lots of new sets of photos, if anybody wants even more of my last 10 days of travel. Check the links in the left column.
Even if you don't watch the slide shows, at least be impressed with how much I got DONE today! Next I have to tackle the videos.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Even witches and...whatever
that other character is...
This is entry #2407