A small dog jumps through a hoop to get a treat at an SPCA event. SPCA was one of the sponsoring organizations at this past First Friday event in Downtown Lakeland.

On the first Friday of every month, thousands of people gather at the historic Munn Park in downtown Lakeland for a popular recurring event creatively named, First Fridays. The Downtown Lakeland Partner- ship hosts this event and provides an evening full of free, family-friendly fun. First Fridays has something for everyone from live music and art shows to taste-testing food from all the great, locally owned restaurants. Each month, First Friday has a different theme, and special activities to compliment the theme.

On Sept. 5, First Friday’s theme was Dog Days Downtown, and was sponsored by the SPCA Florida and My Pet’s Animal Hospital. Even though it was raining this past Friday, dogs were still recognized in Lakeland.

The event lasted from 6 to 9 p.m. in the evening and, despite the rain, drew in about 5,000 people. Attendees were invited to bring their dogs on a leash to get a chance to stroll downtown for water activities, product samples, treats, obedience training demonstrations, and more.

The My Pet’s Animal Hospital graciously provided “The Hydration Station,” which was a misting tent with wading pools for the pups, a drying off area, and water for the two-legged attendees, as well. My Pet’s Animal Hospital also offered special treats, giveaways, and a raffle contest.

All the proceeds will benefit the My Pet’s Animal Hospital Hope Fund, which helps save pets from unnecessary euthanasia and provide them with proper care and eventually a loving home.

SPCA Florida offered $10 microchips, and its mobile Wellness Wagon provided low cost vaccinations and preventive products. Owners could help their dogs create “artwork” at SPCA Florida’s Paw Printing station and learn more about the nonprofit’s community programs like Safety Net and Ani-Meals, which help keep pets in their homes.

“SPCA Florida is excited about partnering with Downtown Lakeland Partnership and My Pet’s Animal Hospital to offer this incredible pet-centric community event,” said SPCA Florida Executive Director Adam Stanfield. “We hope to use this event to raise awareness and expand our reach to help even more pets and people.”

Students, whether you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night or need a good canine-fix, First Fridays is always a good idea. As always, there is live mu- sic, the Classy Car Show, and shops and restaurants that are open late.

For more information contact the Downtown Lakeland Partnership or visit www.downtownlakelandfl.com.