To celebrate Presidents Day, Calvin Coolidge went to the Palm Beach Zoo today.
Calvin, as the oversized caricatured Coolidge is known, is one of two racing presidents mascots who will be fixtures at Washington Nationals’ spring training games at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
His Ballpark race partner, Herbie Hoover, got the day off today.
But Calvin – wearing a Nationals jersey with No. 30 (because he was the 30th president, serving from 1923-29) — hung out with dozens of children at the zoo, exchanging high-fives, posing for photographs and visiting the animals.
“He’s got a really big head,’’ one kid yelled to his mother as Calvin ducked to avoid branches outside the otter exhibit.
Calvin, who doesn’t talk, stood next to the “How High Can You Jump” measuring stick by the panther exhibit (which showed how panthers can leap 17 feet). He came in at 10 ½ feet, including his 3-ft. head.
Most kids who encountered Calvin ran up to him to slap high-fives. Others looked on in bewilderment. One little girl in her mother’s arms let out a scream as the oversized mascot strutted by.
Calvin and Herbie have been making appearances around the area for the last few weeks promoting the Nationals’ presence at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The team shares the $150 million complex with the Houston Astros.
The Nationals host the Astros in the very first game on Feb. 28. That day, and on the rest of the Nationals’ home games in West Palm Beach, Calvin and Herbie will race each other on the field in the middle of the fourth inning.
They’ll also wander around the stands, greeting fans — much like Calvin did today at the zoo, which was full of kids because school was closed for Presidents Day.
“I love watching everybody’s faces as he comes through,’’ laughed Ron Brooks, the zoo’s events manager, who escorted Calvin.
As he walked past the red-shoulder hawk exhibit, Calvin received a gentle ribbing from zoo keeper Carter Brentz.
“You’re scaring my birds. They’re not eating,’’ she said with a laugh.