Villa Park aims to break world record for 'largest dog wedding ceremony'
Villa Park is calling all dogs with matrimony on their minds.
An attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the "largest dog wedding ceremony" is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 25. The gathering place is near the end of the Great Western Trail at the village's Lions Park, 320 E. Wildwood Ave.
Event organizers are Villa Park-based Robust Promotions and the Villa Park Community F.U.N. (Focus on Unifying Neighbors) Commission -- previously called Community Pride Commission, renamed at this week's village board meeting.
"It is not just about Villa Park. This is for all of DuPage and all of the surrounding areas," said F.U.N. commission member Tracy Gabriel at the meeting. "Anybody that has a dog."
The current recordholder for the largest dog wedding ceremony is Littleton, Colorado, where 178 canine couples -- a total of 356 dogs -- gathered in 2007. An Illinois attempt to beat the record the following year in Oak Park only attracted 87 dog couples.
F.U.N. chairwoman Leslie Allison-Seei participated in the failed Oak Park effort but felt the time was right for another crack at breaking the record.
"All we have to do is break it by one, but we're going to go for 250 doggy couples," said Allison-Seei. "So we need 500 dogs."
The nonbinding doggy nuptials are part of a larger "Paws & Claws in the Park" animal adoption event, which runs until 2 p.m. It will feature a variety of vendors and training workshops provided by the Lyons Township Dog Training Club.
The $25 registration fee to participate goes to participating animal rescue groups at the event. Each dog will receive a "Doggy Do's Wedding Gift Bag" and a customized wedding certificate.
For such a lighthearted event, Guinness World Records has serious guidelines before it will officially recognize the record-breaking attempt.
For example, dog owners cannot put any costumes on their leashed pets, lest the clothing conceals any outward signs of abuse or neglect.
Allison-Seei also said that Dr. Mary Felt with DuPage Animal Hospital will be the required veterinarian at the event. Felt will inspect each dog before they go into the ring for the official count.
But some of the sillier requirements call for a red carpet for each dog couple to march down. Also, the famed wedding march from the Wagner opera, "Lohengrin," must be played.
Allison-Seei is pleased many volunteers have pledged their support. Yet, she said, many more, like dog walkers to be stewards for every 50 dogs, are needed.
"Every September, the commission does a dog adoption event," Allison-Seei said. "So we just decided to ramp it up this year."
For the list of guidelines and more information, visit pawsandclawsvp.com.