Love a parade? Love animals? Then Aug. 18 is the day for you

glemasurier@theolympian.comApril 29, 2012 

A Procession of the Species meandered through downtown Olympia on Saturday, and dragons are churning up the waters of Budd Inlet today.

The goats, cats, spiders and dogs dressed in funny costumes come later this summer, on Saturday, Aug. 18, for the 83rd annual Pet Parade – that’s 581, if you’re counting in dog years.

It’s these eclectic traditions that make life in Olympia so interesting.

Where else can you see a turtle disguised as a hamburger ambling across Fifth Ave.? Or a small boy dressed up as a giant chicken and tottering to stay upright, followed by six Daschund dogs doing a fine interpretation of Clydesdale horses pulling a mini beer truck?

The Olympian has been organizing Pet Parade since 1939, but it actually began in 1929 as part of a pagan festival started by a local 4-H club to precede Lakefair.

According to a 1985 book by Shanna Stevenson titled, “Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater: A Pictorial History,” “By 1932, the event was called the Pet and Doll Parade, and children were treated to an afternoon matinee after the pageant.”

In recent years, we’ve attached a theme to each event to give kids and their parents a focus to dream up fanciful costumes and elaborate floats for their large or small menageries.

This year’s theme is Cartoon Crazy.

Pet Parade is a partnership between The Olympian and the Olympia Downtown Association, along with our business sponsors, the City of Olympia and the state Department of Enterprise Services for the uses of Heritage and Sylvester parks.

Over the past 82 years (that’s 574 for dogs), several generations of Olympians have partaken in parading pets through out city’s streets. Grandchildren, and perhaps even great-grandchildren of former Pet Paraders are poised to participate in August.

We would like to hear from you. What are your favorite Pet Parade memories? What funny things happened while dressing your pet or building your family’s float?

On the diamond anniversary (75th, or 525 dog years), Peggy Barry told us about her children, Erin and Kevin, who decided to parade their pet tarantula. Unfortunately, the spider died two days before the event. But the Barry family was undeterred.

“The kids were really looking forward to walking in the parade, so I quickly found the rules listed in the paper and nowhere did it say that the pet had to be living. Unbeknownst to anyone but Erin, the kids pulled the dead tarantula through the parade and even won $10 for the smallest pet,” she wrote to us in 2004.

Do you have a favorite Pet Parade story to share? Send it to us at petparade@gmail.com.

ET CETERA

Three Olympia High School students swept the overall individual titles in the Washington State Math League Championship Math Meet held at The Evergreen State College recently. Ray Ma won first, followed by Ernest Gu and Simon Baumgardt-Wellander. OHS won the overall team title, followed by North Thurston in second and River Ridge in third place … The South Sound has at least a couple connections to this weekend’s pro football draft. The number 2 pick, Robert Griffin III attended an Olympia-area elementary school in the 1990s and Tumwater graduate Matt Johnson was hoping to get picked in the later rounds… The Olympian sadly notes the passing of one of our own, Douglas Newton, an artist who drew cartoons for this newspaper for more than 15 years back in the 1970s. His family still resides in Olympia.

George LeMasurier, publisher of The Olympian, may be reached at 360-357-0206 or glemasurier@theolympian.com.

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