By Jay F.
What a beautiful day for a picnic. Partly cloudy skies and moderate temperatures. As in past years my kids were excited for the company picnic. We headed out early from Baltimore to get to the National Zoo in time for all the festivities. We parked at a convenient metro stop and whisked our way downtown by rail. We made our way directly to the picnic site, hoping to take in some of the animals after lunch. The first thing my kids saw at the picnic was the enormous stuffed Panda bear on stage. My daughter, the girl with a hundred stuffed animals, was immediately envious. I assured her the bear was only for decoration, that they are not giving it away because it is too big, and no one would be able to get it home. After some great food and good company, my kids went off to have some fun destroying piñatas and gathering candy. Then it’s on to ice cream for dessert. Intent on our ticket number, we start listening to the raffle results hoping to pick up a nice gift certificate. No luck. Much to my surprise, they then actually do decide to raffle this giant stuffed Panda. They call one number and no one comes forward. Then they call another number – it’s ours! My kids jump nearly three feet in the air, ice creams tossed on the table they dash down to the stage. I am incredulous – how will I get this home? We gather around the beast amid many smiles and pictures. Both kids are nearly beside themselves with joy. But an 8 foot stuffed panda weighs nearly 50 pounds. Carrying him a half mile back to the metro and getting him into a metro car is not an option. Would he need his own fare card? Uber seemed like the only alternative. With my daughter taking the head and my son the feet, we lumber along making our way out to the street. We are a sight to behold as tourists snap pictures of us. The Uber finally arrives. The driver is taken aback by the size of this thing but it is all in good fun. He helps us stuff this enormous bear into the trunk for the trip back to our car.
Once home in Baltimore, we introduce “JJ”, his new official name, to his new home in our basement. Where else would he fit? He has his own couch – the entire thing! My kids are still ecstatic. He is so soft and mushy that they take every opportunity to cuddle with him. TV has taken on a new dimension as they can each sit on a part of JJ without disturbing one another. ActioNet really knows how to throw a party, and it was truly a great day for a picnic at the zoo. Come to think of it though, we never did get to see any of the other animals.