By Heather Copfer
Grab your furry four-legged friends and a wicked costume.
The first Howl-O-Ween dog costume parade is Sunday, October 28, at Margaret T. Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix. The event, which will be on the west side of the park, is free to attend, but participation in the pup parade starts at $20.
“It’s not just a parade, it’s definitely a party,” says Alison Sipes, Downtown Phoenix events manager.
While the dogs are the main attraction, attendees of all ages will find other great distractions at this block party like a game zone, face painting area and a live R&B/Motown set by Southside Soul featuring Kenny Gilmore. Food trucks will be onsite and for those 21 and older, bars will be set up serving wine, beer and craft cocktails by Rattle & Rum.
The Howl-O-Ween dog parade was inspired by a New Orleans event called Barkus, an annual dog parade since the ’90s. While breeds of all dogkind are welcome to participate, it is asked that pets are up-to-date on vaccinations and pooches are attached to a leash or secure in a wagon.
Each pup registered in the parade will be considered for the chance to win prizes at the costume contest awards ceremony. Pup costumes are a must, but optional for their human counterparts and spectators.
Aside from the Howl-O-Ween excitement, Sipes explains all proceeds will be split between three nonprofit organizations in the Valley.
One of these groups, the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL), is the oldest and largest no-kill shelter in Arizona. Its goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome dogs, cats, puppies and kittens throughout the state. Even when the shelter is full, no rescue is turned away. The shelter holds 190 dogs and 140 cats.
“We love finding community partners that support and invest in helping homeless pets in their community,” says Michael Morefield, director of marketing and communications for AAWL. “Giving second chances to animals who are full of love and need help is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”
AAWL will have a pet adoption area at the event.
Another of the nonprofits, ONE Community, is a coalition that supports diversity, inclusion and equality for all Arizonans. In 2013, it launched a Unity Pledge that advances workplace equality and equal treatment in housing and public accommodations for LGBTQ individuals. This pledge has become the largest equality pledge in the nation with more than 20,000 Arizona signers.
The final organization to receive proceeds is the 100 Club of Arizona. Since 1968, this group has provided financial assistance to families of first responders who are severely injured or killed in the line of duty and provide resources to enhance their safety and welfare.
“Our three nonprofits are very dear to our hearts, and are groups we have personal relationships with,” Sipes says.
“It wouldn’t be a dog-centric event without including AAWL as they are Arizona’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter. One Community has also been integral in moving diversity, inclusion and equality forward in Arizona, dogs included.
“The 100 Club was also a no-brainer as Downtown Phoenix works so closely with public safety on a daily basis that they are like our family. We believe in their mission of aiding the families of those first responders who have been injured or killed in the line of duty. They are also going to be bringing some police and fire canine companions.”
Howl-O-Ween, Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver Street, Phoenix, howloweenphx.com, 2 p.m. Sunday, October 28, tickets are free, charge for pet registration.