Christmas At The Zoo

By Sharon K. DeWitt

Who hasn’t thought about going to the St. Louis Zoo and Forest Park during the Christmas season? It is a wonderful time to go, there aren’t any crowds and the fresh blanket of snow makes the whole park just delightful, a perfect backdrop for photos. One might even get lucky and catch a reindeer out.

Terry Sigel and I decided to go the weekend of the big snow. Well I say big snow, actually it was the only snow and it didn’t last. I wish we had ventured there in the morning when all the snow was still on the trees, but the afternoon still provided quite a striking backdrop. Someone even helped us out by providing a pre-assembled snowman as a prop. We started at the World’s Fair pavilion and after several photos, off to the zoo. Sharon DeWitt at the zoo Wait, just going to the zoo didn’t seem quite enough of a challenge. What could we do to make it really interesting? I know, let’s go in style. How about that red ankle length sleeveless Christmas dress with the slit and white trim? Ms. Santa should wear a pair of thigh high boots. Oh, why not go all the way and top it off with a Santa cap to keep warm?

Sharon DeWitt at the zooTerry was dressed a little more sensibly for the weather, wearing a beautiful long black skirt and top, both garnished with side buttons. A fuchsia sash was added for color and fuchsia beret as a crowning touch. Don’t forget your thigh high boots.

Well, the walk in was a bit of an adrenaline rush (not to mention changing in the car). The trepidation of what awaited us at the desk as we approached the Living World entrance was making my knees weak. Terry should be the one with weak knees, she’s never done anything quite so bold, and it was just a week earlier that I was standing on the steps of the St. Louis Art Museum in a one-shoulder zebra-striped evening dress. Rita was taking my picture while cars were slowly driving by. But, that was another story. Terry was just strolling along, enjoying the walk, with no more concern than going to an ATM machine.

Sharon DeWitt at the zooThrough the doors and through the turnstiles we went. All of a sudden one of the ladies behind the desk yells out to us. What did she say? My mind had to reprocess the comment. Oh yes, she said,"Santa, where’s my Christmas present?" I turned and with a smile replied, "Did I forget you? I’m sorry." Well that was all I could come up with on short notice with the adrenaline gushing out of my Santa cap.

From that point on, we were both floating. It was almost closing time so we went about our work, pulled out the camera, and started taking photos. Several people passed us, and most were of good cheer. Just a few side stepped around us. Of course we greeted all with smiles and cordial hellos.

One very nice mother and daughter duo offered to take our picture together. An Asian couple with a camcorder found us of particular interest and asked if they could film us. Sharon DeWitt at the zoo I was afraid they were going to wear their battery out. What is going on here, hasn’t anyone seen Ms. Santa at the Zoo before? After about half an hour of walking around, my shoulder tips were freezing off, so we decided to pack up and off we went, back through Living World. Another comment from behind the desk, I assured them that I would not forget them next year. Out in front, we decided to take just a few more photos. A nice young gentleman coming into the zoo offered to take a few photos of us, and we couldn’t refuse. Just as I was giving the camera to him, out of the door pops one of the ladies from behind the desk, offering to take our photo. I guess she wanted to make sure Santa didn’t forget her next year. Such nice people. St. Louis truly is a friendly place.

Sharon DeWitt

Sharon DeWitt at the zoo

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