The cuteness dial was turned way up in Heritage Park on Saturday morning as a small army of costumed children and their costumed pets gathered in force for the 84th annual Pet Parade.
Pets of all types and sizes thronged the park as judges made their rounds to inspect the various categories, including big dogs, small dogs, floats, impersonations, and animals being pulled on wheels.
Many of the dogs in attendance wore wings, in keeping with the “Fairy Tails” theme of this year’s Pet Parade, which was sponsored by The Olympian. Harley, a 140-pound Great Dane, wore a horn made of fabric on the top of his head and had a bluish dye on his coat to give him the appearance of a unicorn.
“He’s happy to be walking in the parade,” said Harley’s owner, Terri Borden of Olympia. “He loves to be out with people.”
Borden was joined by her daughter Alejandra and granddaughter Cecila Herring, 3.
Olivia Quiles, 9, was dressed as Boba Fett from “Star Wars”, and her 5-year-old brother, Lucas, donned a Darth Vader mask. The siblings’ costumes complemented their yellow Labrador Molly’s Princess Leia outfit — a white gown and a pair of earmuffs with black buns on each side so she looked like the popular character.
“We love ‘Star Wars,’” Olivia said. “We thought nobody had done ‘Star Wars’ yet.”
Animal lover Brooke Christensen, 9, had a tank on wheels containing her 1-year-old ball python, Vesper. A pair of painted paper wings and a dragon face were attached to the tank, details that explained Brooke’s knight’s costume, which she said was that of a “dragon protector.”
“I’ve got probably the only reptile in the whole parade,” she said.
Christensen’s father, Dave, said his daughter loves her snake. “She saved up for months and months and months to buy this thing,” he said.
Brooke said her snake is good-tempered. “I think he’s really nice,” she said, adding that he’s bit her only once, when “he mistook my finger for part of the mouse.” It didn’t hurt, she added.
Brooke said she also has three cats and two bunnies.
“We have a zoo,” her father said.
Dressed as Peter Pan, Jessie Munson, 16, proudly led her 5-year-old gelding llama, Zion, dressed as Tinker Bell. The llama is a calm pet, she said; Zion is being trained as a “pet partner” so he can go into nursing homes and Alzheimer’s units to provide therapy for the elderly, she said.
Zion “gets out quite a bit,” said Jessie’s mother, Kay. He’s been a show animal at the Thurston County Fair, Sand in the City and a Fourth of July parade, she said.
Olivia Marty, 9, and her best friend, Rosalyn Tobeck, rode a “Muppets”-themed float Saturday. Olivia was dressed as the Swedish Chef, holding her pet hedgehog, Rozetta, in a pot filled with shavings she could burrow in. Rosalyn, who was dressed as Camilla the Chicken, held her pet turtle, Turd. Camilla is Gonzo’s love interest on “The Muppets.”
Katerina Hemstad, 11, had an original costume that perfectly incorporated a home for her pet hamster, Puzzle. Katerina was dressed as a sorceress and carried a crystal ball. The crystal ball was actually a plastic bubble half-filled with sawdust and equipped with vents on the side so Puzzle could breathe. Katerina reckoned Puzzle would be safe as long as she stayed in the crystal ball.
“She’s a little freaked out with all the dogs,” Katerina said.
During the short parade route, from Fifth Avenue down Washington Street and into Sylvester Park, one group of small dogs wore matching pink Seattle Seahawks jerseys, and a pet owner carried a banner that read “Fairytale Season.”
At the end of the parade route, pet owners got goodie bags and children grabbed free ice cream bars as the list of winners was read from the gazebo in Sylvester Park.
Many said they’ve been going to the Pet Parade for decades.
“It’s been a family tradition since 1965,” said John Winans, who was at the parade with his wife, Suzie, their daughters and the family beagle, Buddy.