‘Sunny and Angel Save Christmas’ at Helen Woodward Animal Center

San Diego children’s Christmas event – Sunny and Angel Save Christmas

By guest blogger: Jennifer Chang

This month, the Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC) traded in rubber balls for silver bells for the first annual Sunny and Angel Save Christmas holiday event.

Taking place over the span of two weekends, Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11, Sunny and Angel Save Christmas was introduced this year as an activity for families to learn more about the Center—and to spread holiday cheer, of course.

The hour-long event began at the pavilion, where parents could watch their kids play with hula hoops and bales of hay while they waited for the tour to begin.

They were then ushered into a curtained room, complete with pillows and blankets, to hear an HWAC volunteer read “Sunny and Angel Save Christmas,” a poem about the animals at HWAC preparing for Christmas, and Sunny and Angel, the center’s twin foals, helping Santa when two of his reindeer are injured.

The two foals, mixes between Arabian and quarter horses, have gained widespread attention for their rarity; there is only a one in 10,000 chance that a mother horse will give birth to twins and a one in 15,000 chance that both the babies and the mother will survive the births.

Now just short of 2-years-old, Sunny (the male) and Angel (the female), have gained quite the following online and in the media. The two were recently covered by CBS 8 News and were watched by a 24/7 live camera feed for an entire year. They rapidly gained fame and even a fan base, colloquially known at HWAC as the “miracle foals.”

After story time, the kids were invited to meet and feed some of the animals mentioned in the story, like Sunny and Angel and others like the center’s sheep, goats and therapy horses.

When the tour of the stables had concluded, the kids and parents were provided cookies, coffee and hot chocolate while they waited for their turn to meet Santa. There were various activities to shorten the wait, including coloring, making instant snow and even leaving a special Christmas message for Sunny and Angel.

Each child was given the opportunity to sit with Santa and take a picture with him. After they had told him what was on their wish lists, they were each given a special toy and a personalized letter from the North Pole.

The event was also publicized on the internet, on blogs specific to San Diego and in several newspapers and magazines.

“One of my friends has a website, travelmamas.com. There was a contest, where you had to post a response [to a question] and our response won,” Holly Chisholm, mother of Macy (7) and Emme (5), said.

According to Macy, her favorite part was “meeting Santa [and] making snow” and she and her sister are considering participating again next year.

Jessica Reed-Cancel heard about the program through the email list, but had been to the Center before for First Friends children’s classes and a birthday party for her daughter Emma (2) last year.

“We like to do things that support the shelter,” Reed-Cancel said. “[Emma] loves animals…she’s just innately gentle with them.”

While this is the first year that HWAC has hosted the event, the staff at the Center hopes that it will become a regular occurrence, with people returning next year.

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