On this date in 1924, the Santa Ana Register shared an odd little news item under the headline, “Seal Beach Not To Exhibit Seal At Orange Show.”
Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy of Seal Beach had rescued and adopted a deserted orphaned seal pup, and the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce had suggested that the seal represent the city at the Orange show. An unnamed (at least in the article) citizen heard of the plan and condemned it “in no mild terms as against California game laws.” The plans were dropped and the seal remained in the care of the Kennedys.
The Orange show in question was not the Orange Show that continues today as an annual tradition in San Bernardino, but most likely the 4th annual Valencia Orange Show that was to be held on May 16-25 in Anaheim. There were big plans for the event to be a massive celebration (and living advertisement) for Orange County’s agriculture, farming, real estate, industry, weather and so on. An Italian motif had been chosen for the design of the buildings on the show grounds, no doubt to evoke Southern California’s alleged resemblance to the Mediterranean, as extolled in thousands of colorful orange crate label illustrations.
Alas, the 4th annual Valencia Orange Show was not meant to be. An epidemic outbreak of foot and mouth disease force the organizers to cancel the event for 1924 a bare month before the opening. The event resumed in 1925, and the show’s tradition of not exhibiting seals also continued.
A less happy continuing tradition is the issue of orphaned seal mammals, and over nine decades after Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy rescued theirs, it is probably a good idea to direct readers to the Pacific Marina Mammal Center’s page on Stranded Marine Mammals for tips on how to properly handle our aquatic pals in distress.
– Michael Dobkins
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