My name is Danni Cardiff, and I am the CVA at Cabrillo National Monument here in San Diego. This Halloween, I organized a “Halloween Spooktacular” at the Park. The effort was to be both educational and fun, in order to get more kids out to the Monument.
To start the day, Ranger Emily gathered kids in the basement of our 19th century lighthouse–which is normally closed to visitors. The atmosphere in there is already a bit spooky, as the floors above create a muffled, echoing effect. We also had heavy fog rolling off the sea, and it spilled over the hill where the lighthouse sat. Emily told spooky, historic stories about San Diego and the lighthouse, which ended up being a big hit, especially with the kids.
Afterwards, I gave a Halloween-themed “Creature Chat” in the auditorium. This presentation wasn’t as “spooky”, but related the biodiversity and wildlife of today to the dinosaurs and other Mesozoic animals of the past. I spoke about the fossils that we have found at the Park and, using an African Savannah Monitor and a native American Kestrel, allowed visitors to come face-to-face with the living relatives of the dinosaurs.
Both of the animal ambassadors came from local partners. The monitor was from an organization called EcoVivarium, and the kestrel was from The Raptor Institute. We have worked with these nonprofits in the past, but this program further promoted our partnership. It was also a great experience for me to be trained with and handle both of the animals without supervision, and I learned a lot in the process as well. I am very glad that I was able to share my newly-found information with the 40+ visitors who came to the talk. It ended up being an amazing experience for both the visitors and for myself!