To many Lakewood residents, the idea of hundreds of people dressing their dogs like pumpkins or pirates and marching through the streets of downtown seems normal, now that it’s happened for three consecutive years.
But how did the come to be?
Well, LakewoodAlive Marketing and Development Director Shannon Strachan said this Saturday's event was born out of a meeting four years ago between the group’s Main Street Promotions Committee and national Main Street representatives to develop a downtown event that would spur economic development and highlight the city’s characteristics.
She said they had it narrowed to two options.
“They told us events that do the best are anything involving high-end breakfasts or animals,” Strachan said.
The decision was an easy one. Lakewood has 185 miles of sidewalk, an off-leash and several dog-friendly businesses. Dogster, an online resource for dog owners, has called Lakewood “as dog-friendly as they come!”
“There’s an aspect in every part of our lives [in Lakewood] for dogs to be incorporated,” Strachan said. “We thought ‘Maybe we ought to have some kind of pet parade.’”
The committee began studying what other communities were doing, and came across a Halloween-themed dog parade in California, she said.
“We knew that would do well in Lakewood,” she said.
But would it catch on?
“Everyone jumped right on board,” Strachan said. “The city was very supportive from the get-go, and the committee members were excited to move forward.”
About 125 dogs attended the inaugural Spooky Pooch Parade in October, 2008. The next year, Strachan said about 225 dogs marched through downtown. So far this year, about 100 dogs have been registered, which Strachan said is “way ahead” of last year at this point
And it’s a good thing. This year’s parade hopes to make it one for the record books. The current Guinness World Record for most costumed dogs in a parade was set July 27 at a San Diego Padre’s baseball game, where 337 dogs were dressed in their All-Hallow’s Eve best.
“I think we’ll get there, if it stays dry,” she said.
The forecast is calling for showers with a high of 57, but will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and the parade steps off at the corner of Detroit and St. Charles avenues at 2:00 p.m., rain or shine.
Maybe if it rains, the committee will go back to Plan B – Spooky Poached Eggs Brunch.