Saturday 22 Oct 2016

The Pet Fair
AJ Robinson

Right near downtown Orlando is the Orlando Science Center; it's at the intersection of Princeton and Mills, and it's a great place to take the family. For one thing, it's easy to get to, even if you're just visiting and staying at a hotel near the theme parks. After all, getting a little break from Mickey and the gang can be nice. So, you just hop on I-4 and take the Princeton exit. The Science Center is practically within sight of the interstate, so it's a short drive.

While it is pretty much your standard science museum, it has some nice extras. The place is always playing host to visiting displays and exhibits, and it has an IMAX movie theatre. You want to see the Amazon or Egypt as you've never seen it before? Visit the Orlando Science Center. Another plus is, that compared to the theme parks, the admission prices won't break you.

If you happen to be in the area during the early part of December, the Science Center hosts what they call "The Pet Fair." It's sort of like an old-fashion county fair; they even have rides and junk food. It takes place right outside the building, in the open field running alongside Mills, and its focus, in case you hadn't guessed, is pets. Mostly cats and dogs, but they welcome even the exotic ones. All kinds of local businesses set up booths and sell or sometimes give away products aimed at pets. You can get top-quality food and treats, cages and toys, new leashes and pet carriers, and just about anything else you can think of. Many times Disney or some other group will come and provide entertainment.

As it happens, one year we provided a bit of entertainment. It just so happens that I and my family own a rather unique dog. His name is Shakespeare, and he's known as "The Dog Who Sings Opera". He's quite the local celebrity; he's even been on the "Ripley's Believe It or Not" TV show. Some years ago, we were watching the old Marx Brother's movie "A Night at the Opera" when Shakespeare started to sing along with the opera singers. This was not simple howling; no, he matched their rhythm and tempo. We found it most amusing. We tried him with other types of music, and he turned his nose up at Britney and other modern singers. No, opera was his thing, and the occasional really good singer. We now watch "American Idol" with him; he's better than Simon at picking out the winners, and no insulting remarks either.

My wife got involved in the Pet Fair because she volunteered at the Science Center, and she dragged me and our daughter into as well. Oh, we didn't mind; it was always a lot of fun. One year, we happened to mention about our rather unique pet. Well, that was all it took. The next year, my wife became agent to a star! She took Shakespeare around to all the local TV stations, and he made appearances to promote the Pet Fair. He proved a rather fickle diva though, not always prone to sing on cue. Ah, such is the attitude of an artist.

Still, no matter your tastes, the Science Center and the Pet Fair are both great places to spend the day.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.

Please report typos or corrections
to the editor