Whether they are wiggling under an awkward hat or yapping in a full-on hot dog costume, there’s something about a dog in an outfit that makes people smile.
Which is why 125 dogs and their handlers will be lining up this weekend for the second annual Boo-le-Bark on the Boulevard costumed dog parade, a celebration of Athens’ love of Halloween and its canine companions. This year’s event, which takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, builds on the success of last year’s inaugural parade, which brought hundreds of people to watch dogs and their owners — some in matching costumes — march through the historic Boulevard neighborhood.
“It’s 125 costumed dogs plus local personalities celebrating what makes Athens such a vibrant community,” said Marilyn Estes, co-chair of the parade with Ann Sears. In addition to the dogs, this year’s parade features local celebrities such as chef Mimi Maumus of home.made, musician Tre Powell, members of the Classic City Rollergirls and several current and past local officials. It also includes performances by the Cedar Shoals High School cheerleaders, bagpipes music from Keith Delaplane and swing dancing from the troupe Swung.
The parade begins along Wynburn Avenue off Boulevard, with participants heading east along Boulevard to Seminole Avenue. From Seminole, the parade turns down Nantahala and ends with an after-party at Jittery Joe’s Roaster off Barber Street.
The after-party — dubbed the “Canine Carnival” — features food trucks Holy Crepe and Mac the Cheese, plus frozen treats (for both humans and dogs) from Lil’ Ice Cream Dude and King of Pops. Piedmont Provisions will also be selling drinks. There will be special music and activities for children, and other booths including a custom dog-tag engraving station from Hughes Subaru and a haunted pet photo booth from Anne Yarbrough Photography. Live music will be provided by the Rev. Conner Tribble (winner of an Athens Banner-Herald Reader’s Choice award), as well as DJ David Osborne and Sound Insight Productions.
All proceeds from the parade benefit Athenspets, a nonprofit organization that works to adopt pets from local animal shelters. Last year’s parade raised $4,500 for the cause, with this year’s event set to top that amount.
“Along with our all-volunteer committee working behind the scenes, I credit a lot of the parade’s success to Athens’ dog lovers,” added Estes. “Our biggest concerns are the weather, which we can’t control, and what happens when you line up 125 dogs. But we are lucky to have so many responsible, loving dog owners and a fun-loving crowd, which makes this event such a joy to watch.”
Boo-le-Bark on Boulevard
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15
Where: Boulevard neighborhood and Jittery Joe’s Roaster