Best Local Legend - 2007
The Poker Game That Named OC
It's not nearly as creepy as it sounds. Promise. You've passed it dozens of times on the way to the beach?a faded, sky-blue sign in curlicue script, amongst commercial buildings, fast-food joints and plazas, announcing a . . . pet cemetery? Rest assured: It's nothing like Stephen King's pet cemetery ( . . . or, er, Sematary) of 1989. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite: rows and rows of tiny graves belonging to some of the most loved creatures in all the county?our pets. Sure, it sounds kind of strange, but really, it makes plenty of sense. Over time, our pets?our dogs, cats, rats, and even some raccoons and monkeys?come to be part of our families. And why not give a family member a proper goodbye? Granted, visiting the cemetery's office (which houses a dim visitation room, some tombstones and a display of teeny pet coffins) is a tad unnerving, but a walk through the actual cemetery, littered with artificial flowers, American flags, banners and even pets' favorite toys, can actually be kind of soothing. Exploring the cemetery's paved pathways, you can read the last messages dedicated owners had for their animals on their headstones. It can be sweet (the cap-wearing, rose-adorned monument for World War II canine hero Sarge), funny (a pet rat that lived to be 7 years old named Willyum Yummers), amazing (parakeet Katie Teeter was born in 1883), or just plain heart-wrenching (on a headstone for "Our Big Goofy," K.K. the cat: "The day you reached out your paw to us through your cage door at the shelter was the luckiest day of our lives. So long, for now").