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Community invited to celebrate Trouper’s birthday

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

Help celebrate Trouper’s birthday at the Sanibel Public Library. MEGHAN MCCOY

Kids of all ages are invited to the Sanibel Public Library next month to help celebrate Trouper’s birthday, a raccoon that has had an impact on many lives throughout the years.

Trouper was rescued by licensed wildlife rehabilitator Dot Lee after he was found with severe scaring above his eye and nose from being struck with a golf club.

Unfortunately since Trouper’s injuries were still so massive – he was still blind, could not smell, feed himself, climb a tree, or defend himself – at the end of six months when she was supposed to release him, Lee found a way to continue to care for him. Six years ago this April, Lee and Trouper arrived in Southwest Florida from North Carolina.

Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Trouper’s 7th birthday party will be held on the bottom floor of the Sanibel Public Library, 770 Dunlop Road.

Lee said this year instead of having cakes donated by Bailey’s and Publix, a birthday cake contest will be held. She said she would like for families to make a 9×12 one layer cake with the theme “respecting wildlife.”

“It has to be a wildlife theme, which means it can be with a fish, birds, raccoons, or mice, or reptiles,” she said, adding that it can be any flavor.

All of Trouper’s guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite decorated cake, which will be displayed on a table.

“My attitude about it is this. Almost every child walks around with a little bit of change in his pocket. It’s easy for a child to have a quarter in his pocket,” Lee said. “This way he doesn’t have to go around and beg his mother, or dad, or grandmother, or whomever for it. He can have his own quarter and vote.”

Lee said the guests will vote by dropping a quarter into a container in front of their favorite cake.

“If you want to vote with more than one quarter that is fine. You can vote with five, six, seven quarters. Someone said to me, well what if they want to put $5 in there? We are going to have a lot of rolled quarters with us. They will just exchange their $5 for rolled quarters,” she said.

The winning cake will have the most quarters.

Lee said due to the party having sponsors, they have some prizes to give out. The prizes includes a gift certificate, so a family can go out to dinner at Trader’s Restaurant for winning the cake. Toys Ahoy is also giving a gift certificate, as well as MacIntosh Books & Paper.

Since it is a birthday party, all the guests will have the opportunity to choose any slice of birthday cake they would like to try after singing Happy Birthday to Trouper.

“The cakes should be varied, so they should be able to find a cake that they can eat,” Lee said.

A special treat this year for guests is watching Trouper eat his birthday cake. Every year, since everyone is so busy at the birthday party, Trouper never has the opportunity to enjoy a cake until later when he returns back home.

“I always make him his own birthday cake each year,” Lee said about placing the cake on the lanai at her home. “I am making him a 9×13 cake like I always do. We are going to actually watch him eat his own birthday cake. The interesting thing is he can’t smell it, or see it, so he feels it. So consequently, his hands are all over it and then he walks through it and then sits on it. I put some of the cake in his mouth, so he can taste it and then put his head down in it, so he can bite the cake.”

She said it is so much fun to watch Trouper do whatever he wants with his cake.

Lee’s cake will be decorated with licorice representing a birds nest with jelly beans for the eggs.

The birthday party will also include many arts and crafts. One of the stations will include the kids having the opportunity to design a birthday card for Trouper. Lee will provide crayons, magic markers and a vast assortment of rubber stamps for the kids to choose from.

Families will also have the opportunity to work on a mask together, which they can take home. The raccoon mask will include eyes, mouth and ears.

Each child will also receive a packet, which includes connect the dots; a sheet where the children have to put the whiskers on the raccoon, mask on its face, stripes on its tail and the nails on his fingers; help trouper find his dinner through a maze; word puzzle and a coloring sheet.

“Each guests will be allowed to pick out a ring. There is a fox, owl and a raccoon. They can wear a ring. They each get a gift when they come,” Lee said.

A 15-minute powerpoint presentation will be shown of Trouper’s life this past year in regards to places he has been, people he has met and people he has touched.

Last, but not least, guests will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Trouper, as well as take a birthday balloon home.

Those interested in attending are asked to call Lee at (239) 482-7176 to let her know they will be there and if they are bringing a cake.

In year’s past, Trouper’s birthday celebration has been held at CROW. Fifty thousand dollars was raised the first year his birthday party was held there, which enabled them to build a raccoon enclosure.

Trouper’s book, and t-shirts will be on sale during the event. All the proceeds will go towards the nonprofit organization’s Trouper’s Teachings Wildlife Education Project. For more information, visit www.trouperraccoon.com.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.