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Blessing of Animals a Sign of Spring

Dogs on leashes, goldfish in bowls, birds in cages and cats--well, somehow suitably restrained--will be paraded around the gazebo on Olvera Street today while Bishop John J. Ward sprinkles blessings on them. The parade is traditionally led by a flower-bedecked cow, and mixed among the usual household pets are the occasional rooster, horse, snake, goat and gerbil. Petless families can still enjoy the festive, springtime atmosphere and a chance to see all the animals.

Sponsored by the Olvera Street Merchants Assn. (which will hand out colorful ribbons to all participants), this annual springtime event attracts the city’s groomed-to-a-fare-thee-well animal residents and proud owners. Dogs and cats seem to coexist with a minimum of fuss, and 5-year-olds manage to make it all the way around the circle clutching huge tanks filled with pet turtles. It’s a photographers’ delight.

Families should plan to arrive early to get in line. The paseo, or walk around the park, begins at 2 p.m. Those at the head of the line will have a better chance of seeing the farm animals after the blessing. Every year, they seem to make a hasty exit after the paseo, and it takes a bit of planning to get youngsters a close-up look at them. Mariachis will stroll the park serenading visitors, and Aztec dancers will perform beforehand.

The Blessing of the Animals is free to all comers. Pay parking is available in nearby lots, and the restaurants on Olvera Street will be open for lunch and snacks (including churros and super-sweet cactus candies). Information: (213) 628-4349.

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