WEST TOWN — The deadline to register your dog for this Saturday's first ever West Town dog parade is Tuesday, according to organizers from the Smith Park Advisory Council who're encouraging folks to strut their "community-wide pet pride."
Fill out this form to register your dog for the parade (it's also embedded at the bottom of this post for easy printing), and then take a photo of the completed form or scan and email it to westtowndogparade@gmail. Participation is free.
Set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, the 1.1-mile parade route starts at 1800 W. Rice St. in East Village's Commercial Park and ends at 650 N. Campbell Ave. in West Town's Smith Park.
Saturday's weather is predicted to be sunny, with a high of 78 degrees.
The parade, including the Wells High School marching band and the Jesse White Tumblers, will conclude with family and pet-friendly activities and vendors in Smith Park.
There will also be prizes for the best dressed and best groomed dog.
David Ramos, chairman of the parade and president of the Smith Park Advisory Council, said on Monday there are about 50 parade participants registered so far, either walking or also taking part in the best dressed or best groomed contests.
Some 290 have said on the parade's Facebook page that they plan to participate with their dogs and another 1,200 who virtually say they are "interested" and mulling it over.
The best dressed dog will receive an overnight stay with its owner at a dog-friendly hotel, courtesy of Hotel Nico, Ramos said.
The parade, which required permits to shut down streets, has the green light from no less than four aldermen whose wards touch the route: Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).
Ramos said the aldermen have also committed to marching in the parade, along with representatives from Chicago Animal Care & Control, Cicero Animal Control, the Anti Cruelty Society, PAWS, Chicago Police, Chicago Fire Department and more.
Smith Park supervisor Travis Bogle and City Clerk Anna Valencia will serve as parade grand marshals.
Workers from Christy Webber landscaping will water down Chicago Avenue so that the dogs paws do not get over heated and the West Town Chamber of Commerce will provide water to keep dogs hydrated.
"Given the fact that Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated we are a bicycle and dog-friendly city, I thought it was fitting to hold the 1st Dog Parade for the West Town Community," said Ramos, who is also hoping the event will serve as a way to highlight Commercial and Smith parks.
"Commercial Park has a small ball field, and fantastic educational programs. We, at Smith Park, have three baseball fields, outdoor chess tables, outdoor tennis courts, an outdoor pool, and ceramic house. We want families in the community to know that the Chicago Park District at both parks are family oriented with programs for children of all ages in the West Town/Ukrainian Community," Ramos said.
Dog owners are encouraged to check in by 9 a.m. on the day of the parade, and all dogs planning to march must have vaccination, veterinarian info and a city of Chicago registration number to participate. The registration sticker — required for all city dogs age four months and up —costs $5 and can take up to 7 days to be mailed, though an online receipt issued immediately will provide a dog owner code that can be used for the parade form.