Living & Entertainment

Young artist gives Pet Parade poster underwater feel

When the Pet Parade sets out through the streets on Saturday, some of the animals might be out of their element.

The theme for The Olympian’s parade is “Under the Sea,” sure to inspire lots of watery costumes and decorations, but the day’s stars, as usual, will be the South Sound’s kids and pets. And most, of course, are not aquatic.

The poster for the 86th annual parade, based on a painting by 8-year-old Desiree “Desi” Knutson of Olympia, shows much more exotic pets, though.

The mermaid on the poster is shown holding the leashes of two octopuses with bows on their heads and two smiling sharks.

“I was like, ‘It would be cool if she had some pets, because it’s the Pet Parade,’ ” said Desi, who’s in the third grade at Black Lake Elementary School. So she added an octopus and then wound up adding more pets so there was one for each member of her immediate family.

Desi had just completed the painting badge in Brownies when she found out The Olympian was looking for youth artwork to use in the parade marketing materials.

Readers were invited to vote on their favorite from among more than 30 entries, said parade coordinator Karen McClennan.

Desi said she particularly likes the colors in her painting, pointing out the mermaid’s pink hair.

“She took her time and she loved mixing the paints,” said her mom, Jessi Knutson.

The 8-year-old artist has never been in the Pet Parade, and her mother liked finding a way for her daughter to participate without involving the family pets.

“I’m pretty certain her cat would hate her if she tried to take her to the Pet Parade,” Jessi Knutson said.

Desi was partly motivated by the prize, a $50 gift card, her mom said. “That’s like a million dollars to an 8-year-old.”

There are many more prizes available for the kids who’ll fill the downtown streets Saturday morning, showing off their costumes, pets and decorated bikes. (There’s a category for floats, too.)

Waiting at the parade’s end will be ice cream and goodie bags for participants. Volunteers prepared 1,000 bags this week, McClennan said.

And for those who are preparing at the last minute, here’s a tip from one of this year’s judges, Dusti Demarest, The Olympian’s executive editor.

“I'm partial to sharks, starfish and mermaids, just so you know,” she posted on her Facebook page.


What: The Olympian’s 86th annual parade for kids and their pets takes to the streets of downtown Olympia. This year’s theme is “Under the Sea.”

When: Marchers begin lining up at 8 a.m. Saturday; judging begins at 8:30; and the parade starts at 10.

Where: Competition at Heritage Park. Parade ends at Sylvester Park with free ice cream and goodie bags.

Admission: Free. Donations of unopened cans and bags of pet food for Concern for Animals are accepted.

Categories for judging: Pets, wheels, impersonations, big dogs, small dogs and floats.

Rules: The parade is open to children 16 and younger, and any kind of pet animal. No motorized or battery-operated vehicles are allowed, except those assisting disabled persons. Animals must be under control at all times. Participants are asked to bring water for pets and to pick up after them. No commercial entries or politicking are allowed.

Information: 360-357-0745,


Paws for a Purpose: Learn about how to adopt an animal from a shelter and meet some adoptable animals from 7 a.m.-noon Saturday in Heritage Park. The free event was organized by Lina Hoffman, a senior at Northwest Christian High School.

Play at the Well: Play basketball, listen to music and have a free hot dog at this gathering from noon-3 p.m. Saturday at the Artesian Commons Park, 415 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia. The event will also feature a “sponge dodge,” where kids can also play in kiddy pools filled with water and sponges, which they often wind up throwing at one another. The event is offered by the Downtown Ambassadors, who’ll host another Play at the Well Aug. 22.