Largest in the Nation: Animal Interfaith Blessing - NBC Southern California

Largest in the Nation: Animal Interfaith Blessing

Horses, hedgehogs, and hounds trot (and scurry) for Long Beach.



    Your Perfect Day at the Ballgame
    Justin Rudd
    Animals will arrive at the beach -- and some people on animals, at least a horse or two -- at the Interfaith Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 19. The Long Beach gathering is described as the largest such happening in the nation.

    The only places where you'll see a dog and a kitten and a hedgehog and a goldfish and a horse and a lamb and a gecko and a chinchilla all cozily together? We'd have to go with calendars, children's bedtime books, and Pinterest boards.

    And if you add in a gorgeous beach or sunset as the backdrop to all of that peaceful animalia? Well, people will think you've gone too far, in the beauty-meets-beasties department.

    But there is a real-world location where this unfolds, furrily, and it happens steps from Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach. The Haute Dogs Interfaith Blessing of the Animals, which happens every year on or near St. Francis's Day, is billed as one of the planet's largest, which fits, given that the blessing's parent events, the Haute Dog parades, regularly draw over 500 costume-wearing dogs.

    If you're waiting on that famous Halloween parade -- apologies, Howl'oween parade -- hang tight: That's on Oct. 26, in Belmont Shore. Sunday, Oct. 19 is about every animal getting a good word spoken in his or her honor, not just pups, and SoCalers do show up with a wide variety of peep-making, bark-producing, meow-meowing pets, including some they ride in on (that would be the horses, natch).

    Piglets, donkeys, and ducks have all made past showings, so while dogs can dominate the scene, a full complement of creatures, some bearing flower wreaths and other picturesque accessories, stop by for a benediction on the beach.

    It's a sunset ceremony, which lends to the general picturesque, cameras-are-out-in-force mood of the proceedings. "More than 300 animals are expected to attend," says the Blessing's HQ, including "a battalion of bulldogs." (Organizer Justin Rudd is a longtime bulldog buff.)

    A moment of silence is held for animals involved in sport dog fighting.

    If you'd like to attend, do -- it's free and all "well-behaved pets" are welcome. Some barnyard animals are set to cameo, making the evening happening very much like a calendar, or kids' picture book, complete with sunset and ocean and happy, hobnobbing people in the frame.

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