by Tom Sims
Halloween comes early to the Tower District. In fact, the entire month of October is a frenzy of activity beginning with October Fest.
When it gets closer to All Hallows Eve, the costumes are not on the people, but on their dogs. It is time for Whitie’s Pets Pooch Parade, Canine Carnival & Costume Contest. Some folks just call it the “Pooch Parade,” even though there is much more going on than a parade.
Referred to in a promotional document as a “doggie to-do,” the big event will take place behind the Tower Theatre on the corner of Wishon and Olive avenues in the Tower District on Saturday, October 27 from 1 to 5 p.m.
William Kuebler is the marketing director for the Tower District Marketing Committee. “We are dog lovers,” says the event organizer, speaking for himself.
“There are so many dog lovers in the Tower district, he adds. Because of this, William got the idea of a great dog event and decided to float it by a friend. He invited John Shafer from Whitie’s Pets to an informal meeting at Sequoia Brewing. After that, John got on board and went to his suppliers. Soon, he had arranged funding for dog food prizes.
There are 24 prizes in the contest, six for each of the following categories:
1) Best Dog Costume
2) Best Dog/Owner Costume Combo
3) Best Dog Float (cart, wagon, non-motorized device)
4) Cutest Dog
For these four categories in the costume contest, there are already 100 entries.
Prize packages include dog food, dog treats, services, gift certificates from event vendors and Tower District Businesses and more.
The Marketing Committee boasts that “nearly $2,000 in prizes will be awarded!”
Kuebler explained that from the start, the event aimed at being first class and people caught on.
“We set the bar high.” Attendance went from 500 the first year to 1000, then to 1500, and to approximately 2000 now.
There are 12 vendors. People can come and learn about how to better provide for their dogs.
The dogs are well cared for. The Pooch Police help monitor safety issues and make sure the dogs have plenty to eat and drink. “The safety of the pets is our priority,” continued Kuebler. There is a dog pool at the Cooling Center for the pets to refresh themselves in.
There will be a Ring Master for the event, Nate Butler, a local musician. Nate dresses the part to the hilt and puts his heart and soul into the role. There is a Beer and Bone Garden. There will even be a magician present.
This is not all that Kuebler and the Marketing Committee do. The committee works throughout the year to create events and an atmosphere that brings positive attention to the Tower District. He describes his role this way: “I am the den mother of the neighborhood. I love my neighborhood.”
His passion is real. He understands what makes the Tower tick and what makes neighborhoods tick. The Tower was built in an era when communities were built for pedestrians. Since then, they have been built for cars. Effective neighborhoods need front porches, but, he says, “We have a love affair with our vehicles. We have segregated everything. We need to start planning livable communities.”
“I got a lot of education hanging out with urban planners.” Folks in the Tower understand what urban planner, Holly Owen summed up for me, “Neighborhoods need three things: walking spaces, shade, and places to sit down.”
Walking on the 27th will be “man’s best friends.”
This is the fifth year for the Whitie’s Pets Pooch Parade, Canine Carnival & Costume Contest. It takes place behind the Tower Theatre on the corner of Wishon and Olive avenues in the Tower District on Saturday, October 27 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Humans will probably be dressing up too!
The schedule is as follows:
• 1 to 3 p.m.-K-9 Carnival featuring one-of-a-kind dog products and services, free samples of dog food and treats, and family entertainment.
• 3 p.m.-Pooch Parade along the sidewalks of Olive Avenue, ending back at the festival site for final judging of the Canine Costume Contest.
For more information on “the Pooch Parade” or to find entry forms, go to http://towerdistrict.org. Contestants can register on the day of the event. The entry fee is $10 with discounted entry fees for multiple dogs per family.
The Whitie’s Pets Pooch Parade, Canine Carnival & Costume Contest is sponsored by Whitie’s Pets, Fresno Pet ER, Nutro, Natura Pet, Canidae, Avoderm, Natural Balance, Nature’s Variety, and Bud Light. Proceeds benefit Tower District Projects.
For more information contact the Tower District Marketing Committee at (559) 497-8362.
More of Tom’s articles on the Tower, among other topics, can be found here. To see more Halloween events check out the event pages to your right in the sidebar under Holiday Events.