We are back from Illinois; actually we got back a few days ago, but things here have been so non-stop that I’m not even unpacked from the weekend trip yet – working on that this week. But I had to take a break and write about the super fun Jack Hanna show that we were able to see while in Illinois – after all my anticipating, it was somehow even better than I had imagined!!!
We were the first ones to arrive at Aurora’s Paramount Theater (a lovely old-fashioned theater with beautiful architecture – in fact, it was chosen to be the setting for a few scenes of the Johnny Depp movie about the mobster John Dillinger called Public Enemies that was recently released), so we opted to stand in line rather than wait at the bar. This way, we were first upstairs for our “Jamboree Lunch” and got first pick of our seats. Seeing as how there were only two ways that Jack could get up to the second floor – stairs or elevator – we chose the table nearest both entrances. We went to go pick up our lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, fruit snacks, and chips situated in a safari hat – and came back to our table which had a bunch of little animal toys on it: lion rulers, a finger puppet zebra, coloring pages, and a parachuting tiger (oh how tempting it was to let him loose over the railing to sail down into the lobby… but Jack was due to arrive, so we were on our best behavior). Once we saw that all of the kids at the event were going to be seated elsewhere, I scooped up all of the jungle paraphernalia and put it in my purse. We put on our safari hats and ate our PB & J – did I mention that this event was designed for kids? Had we known before we got there, we would have brought our kids, but it wasn’t very well organized and so we didn’t really realize it until we got there – oh well. All was forgotten once Jack Hanna arrived!! If you don’t know who Jack Hanna is, here is a brief synopsis: Jack Hanna is an animal guy, and he was the director of the now world famous Columbus Zoo from 1978-1992. In that time, he put that zoo on the map; it went from being a place that even locals didn’t know existed to a world renowned animal facility, and attendance at the zoo increased by 400%! He now travels the world visiting endangered species, zoos, and making live show and tv show appearances (his monthly appearances on David Letterman’s show are always entertaining!!), all in the name of bringing awareness to wildlife conservation.
So anyway, at the Jungle Jamboree lunch, Jack goes from table to table (preceded by a woman carrying a baby wallaby in a pouch and a man with a fox), and he comes to our table first!! He had limited time at each table of course, but he autographed a little picture of himself, and we did have time to tell him how we saw him at Sea World on our honeymoon in 1999. He asked if we liked animals, and my response went something like this: “Duh, huh huh huh”. As much as I had been thinking about what to say to Jack, it happened to me again. When I finally met him, I was dumbfounded and couldn’t think about the most important things to talk about in such a little time. No matter; we would be meeting him AGAIN later that same day!!
So after that, we went back downstairs to the merchandise table, and Hubby bought me Jack’s new book (My Wild Life – it’s kind of a re-write / update to my favorite book, Monkeys on the Interstate. But I didn’t have this new book yet, and needless to say now that I have it, my reading of the Harry Potter series has taken a backseat!), and we waited for Jack to finish at the lunch tables upstairs. He came downstairs, there was just a few minutes wait, and then we met him AGAIN and he signed my new book, plus ALL of the books of his that I had brought along – and I had a huge purse full. We explained to him that he is our favorite celebrity (“Oh, I’m not a celebrity!” he said.), and the nice guy behind us took this picture (note that Hubby still has on his safari hat!):
Not sure what to do with ourselves after our autograph session, we were SO tempted to get back in line. After all, Jack Hanna, our favorite celebrity animal conservation personality was sitting within 10 feet of us! But we wanted to give other people a chance to meet him, and I’m glad we chose to just stand there and gawk at him from the sidelines for 25 minutes rather than getting back in line – turns out that some people didn’t get a chance to get his autograph since he was whisked away to get ready for the stage show. It just wouldn’t have been fair for us to be in the line twice. He announced later that people who didn’t get a chance to get his autograph could just email his website and an autographed pic would be sent out. No offense, Jack, but that’s just not the same as meeting you in person! I am SO thankful that we got to meet him, and he is even more humble and down-to-earth than he seems on tv!!
Well, this blog post got lengthy, and I haven’t even talked about the stage show yet, so I think I will cut this into multiple posts as my little guy is finished with his ‘quiet time’. Unfortunately for me (and my ever-growing list of housework), my 2-year-old has outgrown his naps so I don’t have nearly as much free time during the day as I need to get everything done. So you’ll have to wait until my next post (or two or three) to read about the actual Jack Hanna stage show (best show I’ve EVER seen!!!) and the other stuff we crammed into our jam-packed super-fun Illinois weekend. Until then…