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Animals rule at Paper Mill Island

Animals big and small were the stars at last Friday's Blessing of the Pets event.

Coinciding with three days of festivities celebrating the Blessing of the Fleet weekend in Baldwinsville, participants and their beloved pets enjoyed numerous activities on Paper Mill Island.

Jim Pelcher, who ran the fishing derby the next day, registered owners and their pets for a pet parade and other contests held throughout the evening.

"This is our first year for the Blessings of the Pets," Pelcher said. "It should be very interesting."

There was plenty to see and do before the start of the blessing and parade. Mary Beth Lovejoy of Horse Cents Photography was on hand taking pet portraits and printing them on the spot for families to take home.

Intern Katie Barnett was also there representing the Beaver Lake Nature Center.

"We do a lot of school age group trails, where we teach kids about plants, wildlife and animals," Barnett said.

The Humane Association of Central New York had a display near the hot dog and ice cream table. Liz Maunder, an employee of the Humane Association, said that their shelter was one of the area's largest no-kill shelters.

"We have over 100 pets now available for adoption," Maunder said while petting Red, a 10-year-old Beagle mix who's looking for a home. "Red's a potato looking for his couch," Maunder added with a smile.

Organizer Rev. Joseph McGarry gathered everyone around and blessed the animals before the start of the parade.

"The idea of Blessings of the Animals originated from St. Francis of Assisi. Usually St. Francis' commemorative day is in October," said Rev. McGarry.

The pets and their owners paraded around Paper Mill Island and were judged on largest pet, smallest pet, most unusual pet and most exotic pet, among others.

Tea Avalon's 11-month-old, 80-pound Newfoundland dog named Buddy Holly won Biggest Dog.

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