We arrived at the beach today, and got one of the best beach stories ever. Besides the normal loading in, finding a parking space, and all that jazz we decided to take the kids to their first beach souvenir store.

We chose Alvin’s Island, the one that features all of the live animals. That turned out to be an awesome decision.

We arrived at the store and started looking around. DJ and I headed down the ramp to where signs promised “Have your picture taken with a live alligator!” I figured the kids might like to see an alligator.

As we progressed down the ramp I heard some scuffling and something that sounded a bit like a small dog barking. A few people had gathered around the glass display case counter where apparently there is normally an alligator available for pictures. As I positioned us for a better look, the scuffling got a little more heated. In a flash there was a full-grown raccoon inside the glass display case only a few inches from where I was standing. So that’s what all the excitement is about. I’d thought they were trying to catch a small alligator at first (fairly harmless) or a small dog once I heard the sounds (completely harmless) but when I saw a full-grown raccoon I knew things were gonna be interesting.

I moved away from the case, now wary of the cornered wildlife that was being chased around the tiny photography area. “Close the door!” yelled the guy trying to catch the terrified animal as his partner slammed the small, flimsy, two foot tall door to the photography area shut. I have no idea what they thought that would do to stop a raccoon, but I guess in the moment it seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t. As soon as the door was shut the raccoon took a flying leap onto the top of it and then jumped onto the top of the adjacent cage full of parrots. Of course, the birds went crazy, and as soon as the would-be trappers heard that they grabbed their nets and headed for the cages.

The crowd had begun to gather in curiosity, and it’s pretty amazing how invisible a full-grown raccoon on top of a parrot cage can apparently become. Either way, the net holders descended on the parrot cage to trap the raccoon. The raccoon had other ideas, specifically diving face first into a t-shirt rack. That’s when the full-store sprint happened.

Anyone who has ever been to this store knows how big and crowded it is. We left a half hour later with the raccoon still at large and the trappers really, really unpleasant.

Written on September 6th, 2011 , Panama City Beach, Travel

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