We receive hundreds and hundreds of emails each day.
Most can be answered by one person or another without much trouble.
But once in a while, there's a group effort involved.
Yesterday, for example. we received the following message from a mom in New Braunfels, Texas:
My name is Emily and I am hoping you can help me. My son, Bennett, was at Holiday World about seven years ago and won a stuffed penguin at the game where you knock down the milk bottles with a ball. He then gave the penguin to his sister, Cecelia, after she was born and it quickly became her FAVORITE sleep pal. She would carry it everywhere and I have even had to sew the wings on several times. She had terrible ear infections and would put the tip of the wing in her ear to help soothe the pain. So I am asking if there is any way you would have any of these penguins left? What we won’t do for our children. I have attached a picture of my daughter with her penguin. Thank you so much!
My heart sinks when I read this sort of email, since I know how we change the prizes at our games from year to year, and even mid-season.
And doesn't that well-loved penguin look just a little like The Velveteen Rabbit? Oh, Cecelia, we'll sure take a look for you!
After a quick check with Erin, our games director, I had to email Emily back with the disappointing news that all of the penguins had flown the coop years ago.
A quick Google search netted thousands of "plush penguin" opportunities and, happily, Emily headed over to eBay and found, among the 1,700 plush penguins listed, an exact match.
We had a similar situation last fall, when a mom named Tammy emailed the following: This summer my three year old, Christopher, was at your park (and LOVED it of course), and won a stuffed monkey at one of the midway games. He named that monkey Crum and carried it with him everywhere.
On a trip to Illinois, poor Crum was lost and never seen again. I was won- dering if there is any way possible to buy another one of these blue mon- keys? I know it’s a long shot but what a lovely Christ- mas gift it would be for him to get Crum or Crum’s identical twin in his arms again. Here is a pic – you think there is any chance? I appreciate your time and help.
Well, by the time we'd received Tammy's email, all of Crum's brothers and sisters had gone home with other happy children.
So again we Googled, this time "blue monkey plush."
I heard back from Tammy the other day with the happy news that Crum had been found! Apparently that rascal was hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Crum and Christopher were happily reunited.
It really is the little things that count, isn't it? It's the funny blue monkeys named Crum and penguins with wings that make a small child's ear infection feel a little less ouchy that are important; that are real.
As the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit explained, Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.