By Dan Guarino
On Sunday, October 1, Rockaway will celebrate its love of animals as Animal Rock takes to the new amphitheater plaza space at Beach 95th Street and Shore Front Parkway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pets of all kinds and their people are invited to come on down.
From end to end, sea to shore, and pets to ocean and wildlife, Rockaway residents have always had a special affection for the animals around them. Founded in 2017, the annual Animal Rock has sought to create a special event to affirm that connection.
“Pets love to lead their people to Animal Rock,” notes organizer and founder Jill Lauri, “to pick up some treats, and bask in the celebration that they have inspired. People seem to feel supported and acknowledged in their love for their pets. At Animal Rock, we respect and celebrate these relationships.”
“The animal kingdom was my original inspiration for Animal Rock,” she says. I (have) always loved animals. When I get caught up in the human activities and stressors of (things like) organizing an event, the animals bring me back to earth and remind me that it is about celebration, fun, joy, play, and mostly love.”
As to what to expect this year, Lauri explains, among other things, Animal Rock will have an Animal Memorial Board where all visitors will be invited to bring photos of their pets who have passed on, and a Donation Drive area, where people can bring clean bedding such as blankets, towels and sheets, unopened pet food, and new and lightly used pet toys and supplies.
Donations will go to Animal Care Centers (ACC) of NYC, dedicated to helping owners reclaim lost pets, adopt new “furry family members” and provide resources for people to be able to keep pets in their homes. They also work to find caring homes for homeless and abandoned dogs, cats and other animals through direct adoptions and in partnership with 200 other animal placement organizations. Adopting animals in need rather than purchasing them helps maintain and relieve those facilities.
Animal Rock will also provide links through ACC for visitors considering fostering a shelter animal and will share photos and information regarding shelter animals who need loving temporary and permanent homes.
Magical Animal Peace Walks for adults, children, and dogs will take place at the adjacent Rockaway Labyrinth. “We’ll lead Love Strolls for adults to send loving energy to animals in distress, Labyrinth Gallops for children to walk through the eyes of the animal kingdom, and Canine Trots so pet parents can experience a new way of relating to their animal companions.”
Part of the day’s program will be dedicated to “Ways to Understand & Communicate with Animals,” and sharing information on animal communication and “deepening one’s connection with animals.”
Recognizing issues facing animals on a larger scale, there will be information and opportunities to advocate for them on the spot so event-goers can cellphone NY Governor Hochul to urge signing legislation banning wildlife killing contests, where animals are killed for cash or prizes. They can also call federal officials asking them to oppose the EATS Act. The Animal Legal Defense Fund states this federal level bill would undercut individual state’s ability to pass laws regulating agricultural practices and jeopardize farmed animal protection laws within their borders.
As a tribute to farm animals for World Farmed Animals Day there will also be volunteers from The Humane League offering education about the realities of factory farming.
“Rockaway residents have an insight into animals and nature that people on the mainland likely do not,” Lauri notes. For instance, “living beside the beach gives us a window into the ocean and its many inhabitants. We experience the power of the sea and her creatures firsthand. For many, this fosters respect and care.”
Lauri holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a Masters in Social Work from Hunter, and certificates from the Mani Center in Spirituality and Sedona International School for Animal & Nature Communication. She coaches pet owners and professionals.
As an animal intuitive professional providing animal communication, coaching and healing, she cites her own experiences and lifelong love of animals in creating Animal Rock. “Throughout my life, I lived with animals, rescued them, healed injured animals, and counseled people on pet loss. Over time, I became aware of nonconventional methods of healing.” When her dog Misty was diagnosed with cancer, she says, “I learned about holistic health and healing. It led me to spiritual practices.” The experience of Hurricane Sandy led her to wanting to share her expanded knowledge with others.
“People have been interested in learning more about our relationships with animals and ways they can help them. (At Animal Rock,) it is touching to interact with visitors as they open their hearts to animals.” She relates that some of the most poignant moments come as people share stories of pets that have passed away. “People express their love and heartbreak. It is part of the healing process for those who have lost their companions. Visitors are welcome to bring photos of their beloved pets who have passed.”
Of course, all animals large and small are welcome at Animal Rock. In previous years, “we have seen dogs with an occasional cat. We even had a breached whale come out and show their support!”
“My favorite thing about Rockaway is how it supports human connection to nature -the ocean, the bay, the wildlife, and the beautiful sunsets. Everything about it is humbling and a constant reminder of what is truly important. The animals and other beings of nature provide a holding and healing environment.”
“The word that comes to mind when I think of Rockaway is passion. We are an energetic and enthusiastic community. I intend to inspire Animal Rock visitors to harness their passion and channel it towards honoring and helping animals.”
“Join us and romp with the animals!”
For more information go to www.HealingWithAnimals.com/Animal-Rock
Photos by Dan Guarino