LILY DALE - The annual Blessing of the Animals in Lily Dale, which will be at 2 p.m. Saturday is expected to draw an even larger turnout this season.
Sponsored by the Church of the Living Spirit, the outdoor program celebrates the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. The service will take place at the Wolf Clan Stump Circle in front of Assembly Hall on Cleveland Avenue. The Rev. Joanne Copley-Nigro, a local resident, will conduct ceremonies and invites "all pet owners to give thanks for the special animals in our lives.''
Participants will receive healing ribbon/prayer cards and treats for their pets.
The Rev. Joanne Copley-Nigro and husband, Mike Nigro and their leashed pets gather with Lily Dale friends who plan to attend the Blessing of the Animals, including John Gross, Charlene Matyjakowski and Karen Loomis.
Also, representatives from Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue and Lakeshore Humane will be invited to bring some adoptable pets and literature about their organizations. The event will include a theme basket raffle with proceeds going to both organizations. Copley-Nigro said donations of pet food - both dry and canned - or monetary contributions will be accepted by the two shelters where many pets are in need of care.
"And, of course," she said, "each pet participant must be on a leash or in a carrier for safety reasons.''
Those who can't bring their pet or whose animal has died can bring photos for the blessing.
"Don't forget water for the animals; also bags for those unexpected accidents, " she said, "and human participants should bring lawn chairs and blankets, and umbrellas might be in order."
An occupational therapist, Copley-Nigro, first organized the pet blessing service three years ago. Known for her love of animals, she is an ordained Spiritualist-Interfaith minister and spiritual pet healer.