You never know what you might see parading down the streets of Olympia.
That’s especially true Saturday, when the 82nd annual Pet Parade will fill the streets of downtown with kids, animals and, in keeping with this year’s theme – villains and super heroes.
“Last year, somebody had dressed a turtle up to look like a hamburger,” said George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, which sponsors the parade.
“I saw this thing crawling around in one of the staging areas. It was a little hamburger moseying along the pavement.”
Also spotted last year: a Great Dane in a tutu, a bulldog done up as a fairy princess and another dog dressed as the White Rabbit, complete with pocket watch.
“It’s a hoot – all the costumes, all the creative things people come up with,” Le Masurier said.
And then there were the good dogs gone bad – winners of the grand prize for best group.
“We had three Shih Tzus and a Yorkie in a cage that looked like a jail in the back of a wagon,” said Debbie Gerdts of Olympia, “and then we had my brother-in-law’s Rottweiler-Lab mix pulling the wagon.”
The larger dog was labeled “SWAT,” and the Gerdts kids – Hayden, now 12 and in seventh grade at Tumwater Middle School; Kayelee, 11 and in sixth grade at Tumwater Hill Elementary; and Payton, 8 and in third grade at Tumwater Hill – and the grownups accompanying them were dressed as either police officers or robbers.
“My daughter is the one who came up with the idea,” Debbie Gerdts said. “My dad helped build the jail, and my mom made the costumes.”
This was the first time the younger Gerdts had been in the parade, she said, although the family had gone to watch it several times.
The kids were thrilled to win a grand prize and disappointed that the family would be out of town during this year’s parade. “They were sad,” Debbie Gerdts said. “They said, ‘We have to do this again.’ I said, ‘You realize you’re not going to win every year.’ ”
While animals in the parade range from hamsters to llamas, there is one animal that is not often entered these days – perhaps because parading kids (who must be 16 and younger) are asked to clean up after their pets.
“We’re seeing a declining number of horses in the parade,” said Le Masurier. “People used to bring horses but almost never do now. I don’t think we had any last year.
“We should keep some statistics, see how people’s pet preferences change over the years,” he added. “Probably 82 years from now, people’s pets are going to be a whole different species than they are now.”