From "Neigh" to Yay: Los Altos OKs Horses at Weddings on City Streets

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area's Robert Handa shows how the City of Los Altos is changing its policies to reflect its changing community.

    It’s becoming a common sight in a lot of American cities.

    The bridegroom rides in on a handsome white mare or elephant decked out in finery to greet the bride’s family. The wedding procession, or baraat, is a big part of most Indian weddings – some more ostentatious than others.

    While most Indian cities don’t really blink twice at large animals walking down public streets, it’s a different story in the United States.

    Local jurisdictions often have their own rules when it comes to allowing horses and elephants marching down city property, as one Bay Area couple found out the hard way last month.

    Anupam Pathak and Theresa Bruketta wanted to use Dora, a white mare, in their wedding in Los Altos, but city law didn’t allow it, the Los Altos Town Crier reported. The couple had to go through a public hearing to get their request approved.

    Until Tuesday, the city’s “horse ordinance” prohibited large animals on city property – including leading, riding or even their mere presence – primarily for health and safety issues, said Los Altos Assistant City Manager Jay Logan.

    That changed when the Los Altos City Council voted to give the city manager the power to authorize horses at city venues, specifically for weddings, on a case-by-case basis, as long as the proper safeguards were in place.

    "What we had earlier was outdated," Logan said. "We got inspired by these beautiful animals that are part of the culture and tradition of the ceremony. It's a way for us to acknowledge the diversity of our city."

    The amended ordinance doesn't change anything for other large animals, however.

    So if you want to ride an elephant or a camel in Los Altos, you'd still have to ask the city council to approve it first.