Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Day of the Animals at Riverside Park

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Day of the Animals at Riverside Park

Article excerpt

Was it ever truly this simple?

A terrible gang of young people had plagued a major city of the

West, W.J. Sandford Jr. told the city fathers, and then the city

began a recreation department.

Soon the recreation department started a boys' club, and 150 of

the toughs joined right away.

In short order, the erstwhile delinquents molded themselves

into responsible young citizens, knowing that someone cared for

them and that they were of some worth.

Sandford was the new recreation director of the city of

Jacksonville in the spring of 1925.

He related the story of the Western town as he announced plans

for the first citywide pet show for children.

All children -- good, bad and indifferent -- were invited to

bring their pets to Riverside Park on May 30.

No pet would be too small or too large. The contest was open to

every creature, from polliwog to elephant.

The pet show was announced through every school in the city. It

would be the first of monthly events designed to bring the

children of the city together, to form new friendships and to

erase old rivalries.

"I expect the children of Jacksonville to take me very

literally on this," Sandford said.

"If any of them have snakes or alligators for pets, bring them

along. We will have a class for them. I don't care if their

taste runs to pigs or goats -- even to baby elephants -- there

will be welcome on the mat for any kind of creature as long as

it comes in the pet class."

So at 3 o'clock on that Saturday afternoon they came, from all

parts of the city, bringing their dogs and cats and pigs and

goats and snakes and birds, turning Riverside Park into an

awesome menagerie the likes of which staid Riverside had never

seen.

With the beasts came their owners and the mothers and fathers

of the owners, and soon every inch of the normally tranquil park

was chock-a-block with man and beast. …

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