AUTHOR AND BURRO SHARE CHRISTMAS STORY WITH SAN ANTONIO CHILDREN AT THE ALAMO
by Vincent T. Davis, November 23, 2019
A slight chill was in the air when P.J. Day arrived at Alamo Plaza on Saturday morning with a burro named Pedro in tow. Within seconds, people had clustered around the donkey, clamoring for a photo or a chance to rub the animal’s fur.
The duo arrived after a 5 a.m. wake-up call in Kerrville, where Day had boarded Pedro. With permits and veterinary certificates required by the city in order, the duo captivated the attention of visitors outside the Alamo for more than two hours.
There were airmen, Thanksgiving visitors, tourists and conference attendees. And there were young ones who cautiously held out their hands to touch the furry visitor. Day, wearing a black and gray poncho, reached into a saddle bag and pulled out several “A Burro’s Tale” books that featured the real-life Pedro as the main character of a story about the first Christmas.
“This is all about you guys,” said Day, 65, as he handed free books to youngsters. “This story is thousands of years old, and donkeys have been around thousands of years helping us.”
San Antonio was the sixth stop of Day’s pilgrimage across 10 states to share his Christmas book with children and their families. Their travels also have taken them to a homeless shelter, elementary schools and the El Paso-Mexico border. The duo’s 4,500-mile journey began Nov. 10 in Sacramento, Calif., and will end Dec. 4 in Elko, Nev.
The book, published by Christian Faith Publishing, tells the story of a small-sized Pedro carrying Mary and the baby Jesus on Christmas. Day changed Jerusalem to old Santa Fe, close to where he grew up, for the tale of selflessness.
On Christmas Day in 2001, the author recalled a burro named Pedro from his childhood in Tesuque, a small town in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico. A poem that Day wrote for his daughter Jordyn evolved into the book, which is available in English and Spanish.
Michelle and Bryan Logan from Savannah, Ga., stopped for a photo. Michelle Logan said she drawn by the memory of growing up in a part of California where donkeys ran wild.
“It’s Christmastime,” she said. “It’s neat to see a donkey out here.”
Sarah Morningstar, 42, from Seattle stopped for a photo of the donkey with herself and her daughter’s toy Leroy the stuffed giraffe to send to her daughter. She was drinking coffee when she looked up and was shocked to Day and Pedro, whom Day adopted in 2012 from the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center in Reno, Nev.
“He’s sharing the word,” she said. “He gets that right to use the First Amendment at the Alamo … with a donkey.”
Aileen Rosales, 8, shouted, “Mommy, there’s a burro!” as her family neared the burro grazing in the grass. After she and her sister Gisselle, 10, got permission from their parents David and Miranda Rosales, they patted the grass-nibbling donkey.
Amelie Roach, 6, held a stuffed lizard under her arm as Day introduced her to the donkey. Her parents, Shane and Amber Roach, watched with their friend Elke Schaak from Winnweiler, Germany, as she scratched Pedro’s ears. Shane Roach said it was the highlight of his daughter’s day.
“I love donkeys because they’re related to horses,” Amelie said. “He’s really cool and cute.”
Day said he tends a sports bar in Reno that allows him time to travel. He said the cost of his travels is well worth his venture. But the thousands of dollars in expenses pale in comparison to the pain of two close friends’ deaths and a soul-searching message from his father, who challenged him to leave his footprint on Earth.
Both experiences spurred him to action
“That’s really what the trip is for me,” he said. “We’re here on borrowed time. What’s a better way than to gift books to children?”
Kids yelled at them out of car windows as Day led Pedro along the streets to a public parking lot where he’d parked his pickup and two-horse trailer. They headed north toward Dallas-Fort Worth for the night. After that, it’s off to Oklahoma City to continue their crusade.
Mary Kay Gould from Manistee, Mich., wiped away tears as she recalled Day’s message about the real meaning of Christmas. She said it was a perfect time for a story about the birth of Jesus Christ.
“We’ve lost that,” said Gould, 59. “He said many profound things that we can learn from. I’m touched by his sacrifice and bringing this message to the people. He’s doing missionary work.”
Vincent T. Davis is a reporter in the Greater San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @vincentdavis
by Vincent T. Davis
November 23, 2019