Rockaway’s 2nd Annual Dog Parade!

 Rockaway’s 2nd Annual Dog Parade!

By Dan Guarino

The 2nd Annual Rockaway Dog Parade, dubbed Dogtoberfest, put its best paw forward on Sunday, October 8. Sponsored by Pawlacio Pets pet care, it brought some 80 costumed pups, many supporting canine friends and hundreds of people out to the boardwalk for a celebration of man and woman’s best friend.

An “animal lover, a celebrater and a parade maker,” parade organizer Dana Humphrey stated she has “worked in the pet industry as ‘The Pet Lady’ for the last 15 years” and also with the annual Dance Parade New York. After the pandemic, inspired by both, she “wanted to bring [her] love of parades and pets together for the Rockaway community.”

Florence Chong, owner of Pawlacio Pets daycare and groomer, which opened on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in early 2022, noted “We thought that a doggie event would unite people, bring us together as pet/animal lovers. We were a participant vendor last year at the inaugural event. This year, we decided to step up by co-sponsoring the event.”

Postponed last week due to rain, the event was in full swing by 11 a.m. as dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages and their people, many also in costume, gathered for check-in by the hockey rink on Beach 108th Street and Shore Front Parkway. With light breezes, and mid-60s temps, bright sunshine even made appearances through the partly cloudy day.

At registration, each dog got a parade number and goody bag filled with treats, pet food samples, care items and gift certificates.

At noon, excited attendees swarmed up onto the boardwalk for a long stretching pet procession complete with doggie-themed music. Onlookers gathered at railings and even bike riders, boardwalkers and curious other pups stopped to take a look.

The colorful variety of costumes, many handmade, included an owner/dog duo dressed as pumpkins, “Taco Belle”-dressed in full taco regalia, a young cowgirl and pup with matching pink hats, a dog with toy beer wagon on top and owner dressed as a large lime, hot dog, and an astronaut dog, complete with bubble helmeted space suit, with his alien owners, and more.

There was also a shark pup and lifeguard human, a dino dog, bumble bee, a riding cowboy, bats, construction worker, caterpillar, ladybug, ocean creatures, soccer-ball costumed human and footballer dog, Thing 1 & 2, and “Team Bentley” with baseball-themed costumes, cart and Crack Jacks for the parade judges seated on lifeguard chairs at the parade’s Beach 95th Street end.

This year’s judges included Bobbi Mitchell of Pups on the Runway, Nurture U Wellness owner Samantha Cintron, local pet sitter ‘Captain’ Rockaway Kate Rizzo, Pawlacio Pets’ Jody Blanco and comedian and Bettina Show host Bettina Hornung with her dog, both donning poodle skirt outfits.

Canine contestants were invited to take center stage while their owner said a few words about them. Some dogs were rescues, with others originally coming from afar, and one applying to be a therapy dog.

Presented with so many imaginative entries in categories like best matching pair, funniest and overall best dressed, judges worked with dogged determination to come up with the final top dogs.

Third place was Oreo and Simba, dressed, like their owner, in

twin farmer plaid shirts, shoes, and overalls, who won a Connor’s Canine Cookies gift basket. Second prize, a session with animal communicator Jill Lauri, went to Gia and Gladys Soto, who handmade their elaborate Native American all white costumes complete with feathered headdresses to honor Indigenous Peoples Day.

First prize, a one-year membership to TrustedHousesitters, went to Lady “the Unicorn,” a Grand Pyrenes adorned with a horn and animal-friendly dyed pink and purple flowing fur. Her pet-mom, Amneris McDonnell, stated “Pawlacio is a wonderful addition to our community.” Explaining Lady is a rescue, she exclaimed it’s important to “rescue, adopt and save our pets!”

Husband Sean noted “it’s also our 11th anniversary!” With sons Michael and Maximus, and panda dressed sibling-pet Ashes, they happily took photos with Lady.

Runners-up, including The Godfather Pups, with pets and people with matching suits, ties and fedoras, Bella and ‘the Beast’ (a small marionette), Rock Star Jiminy with mini-guitar and wig, The Little Mermaid and Jeter the Jockey all went home with prizes.

The day wound up with an “After-Pawty” at the Beach 95th Street amphitheater plaza, where Connors Cookies and Fermina Pet Foods, Lasting Memories Photo Booth for furry friend pictures and face painting were set-up.

Parade charity partners ARF-ARF (Allied Rockaway Foundation for Animal Recreation and Fitness) were there too. Event proceeds went to the group, which maintains Rockaway’s two community dog parks. Their mascot Rocky made an appearance earlier.

Concluding a 2nd Annual Rockaway Dog Parade, Dana Humphrey said, “Dogs bring people together. They live in the present moment; they don’t hold grudges and they are good energy!”

Photos by Dan Guarino.


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