The show resumed today, at 11am on the dot. Arriving early there was clearly a large presence of Sea World Employees. A central viewing location was reserved for the employees, and many managers populated the main promenade corridor of the Stadium. Orange County Sheriffs were also present. I had heard Peta was going to stage a protest but did not not see them anywhere, not even the parking lot. Which I respect, today was not the day. Today was about Dawn Brancheau.
As normal, a few minutes prior to the show, the trainers came out on stage, crossing a bridge over the water that takes them backstage. On any given day this normally gets a good portion of the crowd to applaud as they anticipated the start of the show. Today however, it commanded a standing ovation, powerful because it was just that, a standing ovation. It wasn't a cheer like when a team scores a point or when a curtain drops at the end of a really good production, this was a few thousand people standing up at of respect and applauding the efforts and of these trainers.
It could not have been easy for any of them to be doing the show today. Which started with a short video montage and an announcement that This moment is dedicated to the Memory of Dawn Brancheau. Totally classy and nice. How many giant organization would have just tried to carry on without a nod to the fact the normalcy had been interrupted? I suspect most, but not Sea World.
As stated, the trainer did not enter the water with the Whales, and also noticeably larger was the distance they stood from the pool's edge when whales were present. They did the shorter B version of the show, "Believe", but with out the Testimonial part where a female trainer speaks about what it is like to be there. A particularly light hearted moment came during the Something Far Greater part of the show. Kalina was in the pool and a trainer had grabbed a fish. Standing in the middle of the center audience area pool slide out, she threw the fish into the middle of the pool. Kalina literally fetched it. Swam out, got it, brought it back and then spit it out back at the trainer. The trainer picked it up.... and offered to toss it back to Kalina but Kalina shook her head no. The trainer went to the box, grabbed another fish and now with two in each hand, Kalina still shook her head no. So the trainer when and put those two down in favor of one large whopper of a fish, of which Kalina approved by nodding her head yes. The crowd laughed.
A more solemn moment came when they did the "passing the torch" part, in which a trainer picks a kid to asks them about what they want to be when they grow up. Today's child, no doubt hand picked, answered she wanted to be a Shamu Trainer. And though I suspect the trainer hosting the show already knew what the answer was going to be, you could still easily tell he was fighting a battle of emotions. Though he maintained his composure admirably the pain, the emotion, and the moment were evident.
That moment aside, the rest of the show featured amazingly sincere smiles that must have betrayed their torn hearts. A true example of "we must go on" and a testament to the Memory of their friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau.
I suspect she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.