Petting zoo sign

My visit to the stuffed animal petting zoo

Lion loves to garden
Lion loves to garden

Once upon a time in Austin TX, 37th Street was a place of magic and miracles. A short little street tucked behind businesses on Guadalupe, it was unremarkable in every way until December. That’s when every house on the street hung hundreds of strands of Christmas lights to and fro, up and down and around and around. There were dazzling spinning lights and stars and angels, lights in soda cans and BBQ pits and dog houses, and even the street itself was bedecked with sparkling lights of all colors, strung from one house to another. People would take their children to visit the lights, residents would hand out cookies and snacks, and random groups of locals would drop by for Christmas caroling.

While the light show still goes on, it doesn’t shine as brightly as it did in its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. Austin has grown up and in many ways it just isn’t the cute and irreverent little hippy city that it used to be. Over time, more renters have moved to 37th St. and have decided not to continue on the tradition, abandoning the street’s legacy to history.

However, this is a happy story, for some houses hold to the tradition of fun and keeping our city weird, and even host day time events in the holiday spirit. In fact, it was on 37th St. where I discovered the Stuffed Animal Petting Zoo, an event sponsored by The Stuffed Animal Rescue Foundation.

Free and open to the public, I was able to drop by and visit with all of the adorable stuffed animals looking for new homes for the holidays. I met a green alien who loves rhythmic gymnastics and a gorilla who is a chess shark. There were lions, tigers and bears, oh my! (Actually, I don’t recall seeing any tigers, but I’m sure they’ve had them in the past.

The best part of the Stuffed Animal Petting Zoo is that all animals are up for adoption. If you’re interested, the SARF is currently taking applications and donations.

Please help these animals find a warm and loving home for the holidays… and don’t forget to hug your own stuffed animals!

For more information on these animals, and many more, as well as how you can get involved, please visit the SARF website.

You can also read a bit more on the Christmas light tradition.

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