Chances are good that, if you celebrated Halloween as a young tot, you likely dressed up as A) a ladybug or B) a rabbit or C) some sort of curious combination of both, since you thought the long bunny ears looked rather dashing with the polka dot ladybug outfit.
But while many of us dressed as beasties, few of us ever got a chance to show off our costume to the beastie that inspired us. That may change, for some kids at least, at the Orange County Zoo on Saturday, Oct. 31. The animal park, which is located in Irvine Regional Park, is throwing its annual Halloween Zoo-tacular, a parent-camera-ready, animal-pumpkin-gnawing charmfest that sees a whole caboodle of kids out and about in costume.
That means if you have a kid dressed as an owl or porcupine, a real owl or porcupine might get to size them up. Will it be like looking in a mirror for Mr. Owl? We can only imagine the bird's train of thought.
It is likely, though, that the kids'll be doing most of the looking at the animals, thanks in large part to the pumpkins placed in several of the eating areas. Mountain lions and prairie dogs and black bears love a good pulpy squash-o-rama, and to see a majestic critter take a seasonal pumpkin apart, one that has a few tastebud-tempting treats inside, is positively captivating.
When not watching a prairie dog poke its little knobby-sweet head out of a hollow pumpkin top, zoo visitors can join in crafts, games, a scavenger hunt, and, you betcha, trick-or-treating.
The date will be Oct. 31, after all, though do note this is a daytime thing, wrapping at 4 o'clock. That means that the animals can get tucked up for the night, as they should be, where, we'll guess, they'll dream pumpkin-scented dreams. And the human tots can move on to the next trick-or-treating scene, back in their own neighborhood.
The zoo, which is part of OC Parks, focuses on the wildlife of the Southwest (this includes the plants seen around the property, too). A few zoo residents are quite well-known and beloved -- hello, Elinor the rescue bear -- and all have ties to a scrubbier, more arid clime.
Oh, and do arrive early, if you're not home hanging a plastic skeleton on the front door: The first 100 kids in costume get something special. The costumes, of course, do not have to be animal-inspired; tots can go as they please.
But if your tot does choose bear or porcupine or owl or prairie dog, best stop by and wave at the animal, in thanks. Will they know they're the source of the costume? They honestly might not even glance up, if they've got their head deep inside a messy, yummy pumpkin. Would you?