It was a dog kind of holiday on Sunday as Halloween came early for 12 lucky pups with the Punta Gorda Historical Society’s Pet Costume Parade at the Punta Gorda History Park.

Four dogs were named winners based on the originality and creativity of their costumes. The prize? The recognition, of course ... that and gift cards from PetSmart for the top three winners and a pup-themed pen for fourth place.

This was the first year PGHS put on the parade. The No. 1 spot went to 4-year-old doberman, Roxie, for her UPS costume.

“We put the costume on her yesterday and went up to the (downtown) farmers market and someone told us this was happening today and that we should enter her,” said Chris Albers, Roxie’s “mother.”

“This is her second year on the job,” said Dan Albers, Roxie’s “father” and a retired UPS employee of 33 years.

The parade kicked off at noon on Sunday. Dog owners did their best to lead the 12 dolled-up pups through the farmers market. The dogs were all ages, shapes and sizes.

“We are very happy with the turnout,” said Margaret Bogardus, PGHS president. “(We) will do one again at Christmas. We will ask people to bring their dogs in their favorite Christmas costumes.”

PGHS spread word of the parade through Facebook and fliers, as well as word of mouth through market visitors and vendors.

The idea for the parade came to PGHS during their efforts of collecting dog and cat food for animals displaced by hurricanes Michael and Florence with the Animal Welfare League.

“We (received) rescue dogs from North Carolina and from Mexico Beach,” said Bogardus. “This is a dog-friendly park. During the week it is amazing the amount of people that bring their dogs out here for dog walks. This is a very family-minded park.”

As for Roxie, it was easy for the Albers to decide on her costume.

“Our son Jack found it last year on Amazon,” said Chris. “Our oldest son is a current UPS driver and the other two boys used to work as Christmas helpers. All the men (in our family) have worked for UPS.”

If the PGHS pet parade becomes an annual event, the Albers plan to enter Roxie again next year.

“We will have to come up with a new costume for next year,” said Chris.

The Punta Gorda History Park is located at 501 Shreve St. in Punta Gorda. The History Park Farmers Market is associated with the Punta Gorda Historical Society and is open ever Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The vendors are here all year,” said Sandy Moon of PGHS. “There is no other market where the vendors treat each other like family ... they treat the customers like family; it’s a fun group.”

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