Forget Turkey, These UT Siblings Hang with Elephants for Thanksgiving

Published: Nov 26, 2013
Siblings Christopher and Allison Butler have an unusual Thanksgiving tradition — they spend it feeding elephants breakfast.
Siblings Christopher and Allison Butler have an unusual Thanksgiving tradition — they spend it feeding elephants breakfast.

Siblings Christopher and Allison Butler have an unusual Thanksgiving tradition — they spend it feeding elephants breakfast.

This Thanksgiving will be the third the two have joined their family’s marketing company, Vistra Communications, for Brunch with the Elephants, an event for children to interact with elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Vistra is the public relations firm for the circus’ Tampa market, and this year children are being invited from Grow Life Church, The Skills Center and the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.

“It’s a lot of fun to do,” said Christopher ’14. “I love doing it.”

Christopher is an advertising and public relations major who will work at the family firm when he graduates in May. For him, the fun of feeding the elephants breakfast is combined with the real-world experience of event planning, writing press releases and interacting with the media who cover the event.

The day starts early for Christopher and his dad, Brian, who head out to the fresh produce markets on Hillsborough Avenue to get boxes of apples, carrots, corn and melons. Then they swing by a bakery for day-old Cuban bread and book it to the Florida State Fairgrounds to begin set-up.

Allison meets the team there, leaving behind her mother, Assistant Professor Maureen Butler, a UT accounting professor, to prep for the family Thanksgiving dinner at home.

For Allison ’16, an accounting major, Brunch with the Elephants is a welcome addition to her family’s Thanksgiving.

“Plus, I still get to watch the Macy’s parade,” said Allison, who also helps out with social media, logistics and interacting with the children.

The Thanksgiving brunch is just one of the events Vistra plans to promote the circus, which starts its tour in Tampa in January.

Watch a video from a previous event, composed by Allison.  

 

 
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