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Get ready for the 80th annual Pet Parade

One of the wonderful things about the Olympia area community is its enthusiasm for eclectic traditions. Where else will you find a Procession of the Species or a Pet Parade?

Kids and parents already are creating costumes for gerbils and creating their homemade floats for their collection of snakes as the days count down to the 80th Pet Parade — that’s 560 in dog years — on Aug. 15.

Being new in town, I have never seen the Pet Parade. But I’ve heard the stories and it sounds like a hoot.

According to a special edition published on the 75th anniversary of the Pet Parade, the event began in 1929 by the 4-H club. It was part of a “pagan festival” that preceded Lakefair.

“By 1932, the event was called the ‘Pet and Doll Parade,’ and children were treated to an afternoon matinee after the pageant. In 1939, The Olympian took over sponsorship of the event, which has grown to grand proportions,” according to a 1985 book by Shanna Stevenson titled, “Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater: A Pictorial History.”

Our newspaper’s staff has enjoyed staging this event with the help of many community partners over those many decades. We’re doing it again this year, using the theme “Back to the Beginning,” an encouragement for parade entrants to remember the event’s roots and honor the past.

In that 2004 issue celebrating Pet Parade’s diamond anniversary, readers submitted stories about their favorite experience. One of those was written by Peggy Barry, who recalled that her daughter, Erin, and son, Kevin, decided to parade their pet tarantula, along with a neighbor child, Amy Walsh.

Unfortunately, the spider died two days before the event. But the Barry family was undaunted.

“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,” wrote Peggy.

And Samantha Williams wrote about her many years parading with her beloved English bulldog named Bob, who died of a heart attack in 2004. Samantha and Bob dressed as Ike and Tina Turner one year, and then as Elvis twins another year (Bob wore a much hairier Elvis wig). Seems that Samantha dressed Bob in all kinds of crazy outfits year after year.

The costumes and categories have changed over the years, and will again this year, but the purpose remains the same: a family event that inspires fun and creativity, sometimes for entire neighborhoods or preschools.

Visit our Web site at www. theolympian.com for the categories and rules for this year’s Pet Parade.

OPT-IN TV BOOK COMING

Most television viewers these days use on-screen grids to get the listings for their favorite shows. And that means most of The Olympian’s subscribers never look at the weekly TV section we insert in Sunday’s edition.

Rather than waste all that valuable newsprint, we plan only to include the television guide in newspapers of those readers who really use it. Beginning in mid-September, only those subscribers who specifically ask for the weekly TV book will receive one.

As we get closer to the date, we’ll publish a phone number for you to call to continue receiving the guide.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or glemasurier@theolympian.com.

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