PUNTA GORDA — The pups were on parade Sunday and dressed to the nines in their best Halloween costumes for the 2nd Annual Pet Costume Parade in Punta Gorda. 

The Punta Gorda Historical Society hosted the event during it's weekly farmers market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Sunday at the Punta Gorda History Park.

The pet parade kicked off around 11 a.m. with at least 30 dogs signed up to participate but more joined the party after signups.

"I feel great about the turnout," said Margaret Bogardus, PGHS president. "It was a better turnout than last year. We had more dogs that participated and we had a variety of dogs from the very large to the small."

Bogardus said were unable to determine an official count at the time but that they had around double the amount of dogs compared to last year's event.

"The costumes were adorable (this year)," Bogardus said. "A lot of them were homemade and especially with the costumes where the owner and the pet were dressed alike."

WHO WERE THE WINNERS?

FIRST: Top prize went Conix, Tigerr and Malibu and their pumpkin costumes. Owner Shelsie Ruppert set the three small dogs up in a decorated wagon to mimic a Halloween Hay ride. 

"I think the parade is great," Ruppert said. "I thought about this at the last moment and thought it would be easier for them to take them in the wagon. We had these cute pumpkin costumes and thought we would just dress it up as a hayride pumpkin (cart)."

SECOND: Noah, dressed in a cowboy hat and jeans, won second place. 

THIRD: The last spot went to a medium-sized, white dog with a shorts-and-shirt combo costume, topped with a cloth pumpkin full of real candy.

"We'll probably buy more dog treats with (our) winnings," Ruppert said. 

WHAT DID THEY WIN?

  • First place won a $20 Walmart gift card and a baggie full of dog treats provided by History Park Farmers Market vendor Sweets Pet Treats.
  • Second place won a $15 Walmart gift card and slightly smaller baggie full of dog treats.
  • Third place won a $10 Walmart gift card and an even smaller baggie full of dog treats. 

"We were asked if we would mind giving something to the winners," said A. Farod Baldwin, owner of Sweet's Pet Treats and a dog breeder. "We are here every Sunday, so we did it ... a lot of the dogs are our regulars (actually)."

Baldwin said each bag of treats included a pack of health nut treats that provide essential oils for dog's skin and coats.

"We packed those, a specially-made trophy cookie and one to two other cookies (depending on how they placed)," Baldwin said.

HOW WERE THEY JUDGED?

Criteria for the judges was based on the costumes creativity, originality, humor and sense of showmanship.

"I was a judge last year (too)," Vendor Otha Hansford. "We had a much better turnout this year. Everyone enjoys coming in and seeing all the dogs and the people like having their dogs dressed up and being able to show them off; it’s a win for everybody."

IS THIS THE ONLY DOG EVENT AT THE PARK?

On Sunday, Dec. 15th, PGHS will host its 2nd Annual Santa Paws in the Park from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The event gives pet owners a chance to get photos of their families and their pets with Santa.

The History Park is located at 501 Shreve St., in Punta Gorda. Pet parents will be able to download the pictures from the Halloween parade at the puntagordahistory.com website.

“If the (pet) parents have a problem with downloading their photos, then we will print the pictures for them,” Bogardus said. "Events like these always bring a lot of people into the park that normally wouldn’t have come in."

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