HAYWARD -- The animal shelter is celebrating its new mural with a pet-themed festival Saturday.
The mural, painted by Josh Powell and Wythe Bowart, covers the front of the building and can be seen from nearby Jackson Street. It was commissioned by the city as part of Hayward's anti-graffiti effort.
"Josh and Wythe did a great job," said Jennie Comstock, animal services administrator for the city. "It's been amazing how much the mural has increased our visibility. It's helped with people knowing where the shelter is."
At the free celebration, children will be invited to take part in a scavenger hunt, which will have prizes, and there will be a game booth for youngsters, plus face painting.
Dogs have not been left out: Games include doggy bobbing for hot dogs and how quickly can you dress your dog. "We'll provide costumes in different sizes," Comstock said. While residents are welcome to bring dogs on leashes, the event is not suitable for cats.
One of the dogs from the Hayward Police Department's K9 unit will give a demonstration. There also will be tours of the shelter, and animals will be available for adoption. The theme of the festival is "Where Friendships Begin," in recognition of the bond between people and their pets.
Mayor Michael Sweeney will open the ceremony at 1:30 p.m., followed by remarks from police Chief Diane Urban.
Powell and Bowart will be on hand to talk about the mural they created, which is about 150 feet wide and 30 feet tall on the front of the corrugated metal building. It includes illustrations of dogs, a cat, a bird and a rabbit.
"We wanted to showcase some of the animals that are popular in the shelter," Powell said. "We also wanted to draw attention to the building; now it's really hard to miss. We wanted the mural to be legible both up-close and from Jackson."
The two artists spent about 2½ months painting the mural, which was finished in March.
The celebration will feature several of the shelter's rescue partners, animals from Sulphur Creek Nature Center, and booths for pet stores and groomers the shelter works with.
The shelter also is holding a raffle, with tickets being sold now through Saturday. Money raised will help fund low-cost spay-neuter vouchers for Hayward residents.
The festivities will continue until 3 p.m. at the shelter, 16 Barnes Court.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.