by Mallory Moad
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Once a year Fresno’s Tower District goes to the dogs – in a good way – and this time I was there to see it with my own eyes.
On the afternoon of October 24 the corner of Olive and Yosemite Avenues became home for the 8th Annual Whitie’s Pets Pooch Parade and Costume Contest. Bill Kuebler, Marketing Director for the Tower District, felt a pet-centered celebration would be good for the neighborhood. “We have so many dogs and dog lovers in the Tower (including me and my wife) that we decided a dog event was a perfect fit. It was successful from the very first year.”
Over 100 costumed canines assembled to compete in 4 categories that included best dog costume, best dog/owner combo, best dog float and cutest dog. The 3-block, 20-minute procession was more like a pre-school pageant than a parade.
Some of the participants just wanted to play and most got along with each other but very few were able to focus on staying in line for any length of time. The organization of this event was nothing short of miraculous in my book. Although there were no marching bands, the constant “Awwwwwwwwwwwww’s” from the crowd easily made up for their absence.
There were dogs everywhere, dogs of all shapes and sizes, from a tiny Yorkshire terrier to a pair of majestic German shepherds. Costumes ranged from simple but effective to over-the-top elaborate. A white curly-haired cockapoo was transformed into a lamb with a change of ears; with the right clothes, a Chihuahua with a missing eye became a wounded war veteran and a Labradoodle wearing a shaggy mane turned into the king of beasts. There was a fearful Fluffy, the 3-headed Cerebus from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a scaly green stegosaurus and a pair of gun-totin’ cowboys.
Every dog had a story and every dog owner was ready to talk about it. One man tearfully described how his geriatric pug, Captain, made it back once again to be part of an event he looks forward to, even though “ he’s seventeen years old and his tongue hangs out a little further every year.” Jemma the poodle recently lost her vision but not her enthusiasm or love of attention. She happily wagged her tail as kids scratched her fluffy ears.
I can best summarize the mood of this parade in two words: simple and (apologetically) silly. We could all use a little more of both sometimes. Marcel Nunis, Pooch Parade judge for the past five years said it best: “This is something I look forward to every year. And every year the costumes get more creative. Besides, dogs just make me happy.”
My name is Mallory Moad and parades make me happy.