It was our first time back at SeaWorld for a couple of years. We had booked Shamu Dining. I was going to get to try Mako for the first time. Plus we always love the shows (I’m a 50 year old man who gets a tear in his eye at Dolphin Days).
So even though I thought my daily highlight might be the dining experience, or my first time on Mako, or maybe the One Ocean Show or Dolphin Days.
No - it was all about the Sesame Street parade.
We were visiting with my son Charlie. He is autistic with severe learning disabilities - which gives certain challenges, but also means that he has an innocent carefree love for life that most of us left in our childhoods.
Charlie was loving the parade. He was on the kerbside dancing away, while the performers were pulling out the little kids to come and play and dance in the street.
Then Big Bird spots this 22 year old autistic lad dancing away to the music. He comes over to Charlie and stands right in front of him for the next lengthy section of singing and dancing, ending in a high 5 for Charlie.
When Big Bird left, Charlie turned to us with such a big beaming smile and two thumbs up - well, there were more tears than Dolphin Days.
To be fair, Charlie in amongst the Sesame Street parade crowd does stick out a bit, but so many characters spotted him and directed things towards him, it was quite wonderful. For instance, blowing kisses back and for towards Abby, with her making heart shape gestures back.
So thank you Big Bird and friends. You made Charlie feel special, in a very good way.
(2pm parade, 7th August 2019)