THE BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS AND ST. FRANCIS DAY FESTIVAL begins at 10 A.M. on Saturday, October 7th in St. Claire’s Garden at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 1 St. Francis Drive, Gulf Breeze, FL, 32561. Father Tim Backus, rector of St. Francis, will circulate through the crowd and bless each animal individually. The Blessing is open to all parishioners, guests and the public. There is no charge. Pet owners are encouraged to keep their pets on a leash for the safety of all. The blessing of the animals is a tradition at St. Francis which is held on the Saturday closest to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th.), patron saint of animals and the ecology. St. Francis was born to a wealthy merchant and landowner in Assisi, Italy, in 1181. Early in his life, Francis dedicated his life to serving God and the poor. Francis is remembered as having said, “Those who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity will deal likewise with their fellow man.” The Festival of St. Francis is more than just the blessing of the animals. It is a celebration of life, family and community. The children, in particular, have a wonderful time. The Bounce House and ‘face painting’ are among the most popular kid activities. FREE popcorn and snow-cones also draw large crowds. Everyone will enjoy lunch. The St. Francis grill masters will be prepared to feed Pharaoh’s army again this year. The Fish Fry is always popular with fried fish from local waters as well as gumbo and cheese grits. If you are not a fish eater, there will be plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs along with baked beans, potato chips & more. Children ‘under 10’ eat FREE. Adult lunch tickets are a real bargain at $5.00 each. Before heading home, you will want to check out our book sale as well as a wide array of baked goods and homemade dog treats for sale. Don’t forget to stop by and see our selection of holiday wreaths for your home. They are gorgeous. Mark Saturday, October 7th on your calendar now and join us at St. Francis!