The Cat and the Hat and I in the Castle!
The Cat and the Hat and I in the Castle!

‘Come In and Sit Down, Oh Please Won’t You Stay?’

Come in and sit down, oh please won’t you stay?
I have a story to tell about Dr. Seuss Day

It started with Bingo fun flibbity fleek
But turned into a game of hind-and-go-seek

So don’t let me dawdle, postpone, or delay
Now I’ll tell you what happened on Dr. Seuss Day…

Each year, to celebrate Dr. Seuss and the importance of reading, Arcadia opens its doors to the public and hosts an afternoon of interactive fun for youngsters and their parents. There are games, readings, and even cake-decorating contests, all designed especially for kindergartners and children in the first, second, and third grades. As soon as I heard about the event, I knew I wanted to get involved; it sounded like something my parents would have taken me to as a little kid! And so, eager to volunteer, I hurried over to the Castle on a chilly February morning.

As I pushed open the heavy wooden doors, I took in the warm and happy atmosphere as well as my surroundings. The bright red tablecloths caught my eye, and I listened as cheerful music emanated from the speakers. The targets for the beanbag toss had been painted with colorful illustrations of iconic Dr. Seuss illustrations, and some of the other volunteers had even dressed up as Whos from Whoville!

The Castle, normally regal and mature, had been transformed into something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The excitement was palpable. People were dancing and grinning with pleasure, and the kids hadn’t even started to arrive yet. I knew right then and there that I was in for one awesome experience.

Feeding off the energy around me, I skipped over to the Bingo station, where I had been assigned to work. I scooped up the stuffed Cat In The Hat doll resting against the window and sat him on my lap. The little kids were going to absolutely adore him.

I was right. My first visitor could not be bothered with the Bingo chips scattered across the bright red table. No, as he charged toward me with outstretched arms and wide eyes, I knew just what he wanted. Kneeling to the floor, I held the Cat up so that his eyes would be level with my new friend’s.

“Do you want to play Bingo?” I asked in a friendly voice. The child tore his eyes from the doll to stare blankly at me. Yeah, I didn’t think so. Then I said the words I knew he wanted to hear. “Do you want to hug my friend, the Cat?”

I watched as his grin came crashing back and he gathered the doll in his arms, squeezing his eyes shut to savor the moment. I sat back on my heels and smiled too, pleased to have made him so happy.

But then the little guy turned and took off, with the Cat still in his arms! The boy was dwarfed by his hostage and, as he scampered away hugging the stuffed animal close to his chest, his sprint looked more like a desperate waddle than a valiant escape.

I found the child tucked away in a corner of the Rose Room. He had the Cat in his arms and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, but he scampered right over to me. Then he kissed the doll on his fuzzy fur cheek and tossed toward me. I raised my arm to wave goodbye, but the boy had already taken off into the crowd, off to cause more mischief no doubt.

I chuckled as I made my way back to my station. Forget Bingo, I thought. Next year, we should set up a game of hide-and-go-seek!