Costumed Canines Converge at East River Park

By Kendall Bottjer, Contributing Writer

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  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

  • KENDALL BOTTJER/THE OBSERVER

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The 29th Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade took place Sunday, Oct. 20 in the East River Park Amphitheater. Despite a forecast of a heavy dose of rain, hundreds of participants and observers braved the elements to see the well-dressed pups. 

Overcoming a possible shutdown of the parade in 2018 due to funding issues, the event was moved to the amphitheater this year, making it more of a show than an actual parade. This proved popular with patrons as there was increased sitting room to watch the contestants, and there was more space to meet the dogs beforehand. As Bedford and Bowery reports, the Heart of Chelsea Veterinary group donated $17,500 to ensure that the event would happen. 

The event is also raises money each year for cleanup and resources for the Tompkins Square dog run on which many East Village residents rely. Most of the attendees were East Village residents and knew the dog run well, adding local significance to the fun of the show.  

The costumes were particularly creative this year, with pups ranging from store-bought taco get-ups to elaborate homemade costumes. Two Labradoodles dressed as the iconic “Rainbow Fish,” a Yorkshire terrier as a loofah and a Samoyed even dressed along with his owner as Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. Some contestants even tackled political issues with their costumes, with global warming being the most popular. 

Everyone in attendance clamored to snap photos of each passing pooch. Whenever a new dog arrived, dozens of people crowded around to get the best angle for their Instagram or Snapchat. A dog dressed as Snoop Dogg and owner as Martha Stewart drew a crowd almost instantly, with the owner blasting Snoop’s own songs as the dog obediently posed for photos. 

Due to the weather constraints of the competition, the judges condensed the contest into one round with six winners. While each owner got a goodie bag for participating, everyone’s eyes were on the grand prize: over $1000  in prizes from Petco, not to mention local fame. 

Though the competition was ‘ruff,’ the grand prize winners were two Yorkshire terriers dressed as Snoopy and the Red Baron in their respective dog house and fighting jet all homemade. Both brought home a $500 Petco gift card.

The Tompkins Square Dog Parade was a hit despite the weather, and it is clear why the parade is a favorite Halloween activity for many in the city, rain or shine.