New Wilton holiday traditions may be starting, (just look at the new #EnjoyWinterinDowntownWilton campaign) but sometimes it helps to remember how hard it is to teach an old dog new tricks. That may be why the shop owners of Cannon Crossing in Cannondale are teaming up with their newest neighbor, Fidelco Guide Dogs, to bring back a 30-year-old Wilton tradition of the Blessing of the Animals.

The event was a much-loved community tradition during the 1980s and 90s. Started by the late actress June Havoc, who owned Cannon Crossing at the time, it was a much more down-to-earth way to mark the start of the holiday season, says Tim LaBant, who grew up in Wilton and is now the chef/owner of the Schoolhouse at Cannondale restaurant.

“As a child I remember it as a holiday celebration in sort of the opposite way of Black Friday is today. It was always fun to see 100 plus Wilton families there with their animals. I recall seeing animals from parakeets and hamsters to owls and horses,” LaBant recalls.

The charge has now been taken up by Eve Raymond, who owns the British food and gift store, Penny Ha’Penny, in the Crossing. She’s joined by the other Cannondale Village merchants–in addition to the Schoolhouse, there’s Paw-radise Grooming Salon and Spa, Forza 5 Holistic Fitness and Healing Center, and Annabelle Green Flowers. They’ve set the event for Sunday, Dec. 4 from 2-4 p.m., and proceeds will benefit the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.

Raymond says that in the past, people brought all kinds of animals. “We have had horses, dogs, cats, pigs, owls & other birds, rabbits , ferrets–just about any animal you can transport,” she says, adding that once again all animals will be welcomed. “They should be brought in appropriate carriers or on leash or tethered if that is appropriate.”

The blessing will be ecumenical, with several clergy members on hand. There also will be music, refreshments and tables on the grounds set up by Fidelco and other non-profit organizations and animal friendly businesses. State Sen. Toni Boucher is also scheduled to attend and give remarks.

photo courtesy