66 canine couples get married (yes, really) at Cougars' ballpark for a good cause
A baseball field normally filled with Cougars was dominated by dogs Sunday for an attempt to smash the world record for the largest canine wedding.
Sixty-six dog couples, many brought together after a whirlwind courtship, gathered for the nuptials at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva, home to the Kane County Cougars baseball team.
The number, however, fell short of the record 178 canine couples wed in 2007 in Littleton, Colorado, for the still-reigning Guinness world record.
If the "Diamonds in the Ruff" event at first appears frivolous, the purpose was serious. It was held to raise funds and shine a light on K9s for Warriors, a national organization that rescues dogs from high-kill shelters and trains them to become service animals for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma.
Mike Marcotte, an adjudicator from the Guinness World Records, was on hand, as was a Guinness world-record-holding magician from England, Martin Rees, who emceed the mass wedding.
The doggy couples were led by the Cougars' mascots, Ozzie and Annie, down a red carpet and across a balloon canopy to the awaiting outfield grass.
Rees relayed the words from an ordained canine minister, the Rev. Henry Cleotis Farnsworth III, that bound the four-footed couples in matrimony.
Pronouncing them husbands and wives, Rees declared, "You are now friends fur-ever."
"Give yourselves a round of apaws," he added.
After the ceremony, there was a goat's milk toast and the serving of doggy wedding cake.
Event organizer Leslie Allison-Seei, president of Robust Promotions and chair of the Villa Park Community F.U.N. (Focus on Unifying Neighbors) Commission, said this is the second year in a row she has attempted to break the record. Last year, she organized a ceremony in Villa Park that joined 80 canine couples.
"Today is strictly a day about love and romance and smiles," she said.
If the record wasn't quite attained, it wasn't for lack of trying -- there was a station for doggy speed dating designed for quick hookups.
The Cougars, which teamed up with Robust, sponsored two dogs, placing them with local veterans.
"Our only stipulation is they needed to be named Ozzie and Annie," said Bob Froehlich, the Cougars' owner and chief executive officer.
Among the couples getting hitched was Denver, a Golden Doodle owned by Abby Israel of Chicago, and Maddie, a combination husky and pit bull owned by Jennifer Fink of Villa Park.
Elvia Paredones of Aurora had her dog wear a headband adorned with flowers, a veil and a petticoat. Paredones' Roxy Gurl, an 8-year-old pit bull mix. was paired with Kevin, a 1½-year-old a basset hound mix owned Kelly Keyes of Villa Park.
"He's into older women," Keyes said.
Rebecca Chacon of Yorkville, owner of a pit bull mix, said she cared less about the record and more about donating to veterans in need.
"I'm not a veteran, but I have PTSD, so I understand how much you would need a dog," she said.