WEST TOWN — The first annual West Town dog parade on Saturday brought out about 100 dogs and the people who love them — plus plenty of bystanders.
"I don't know about you, but I'm a dog person. I used to cry because they don't live as long as we do. Let's give dogs a round of applause," said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), who addressed the crowd post-parade in Smith Park, 2526 W. Grand Ave.
Burnett, who marched in the 1.1-mile parade with his terrier Buddy, described dogs as "the best friends you could ever have, animals that "bring so much happiness and joy."
For West Town resident Natalie Browne, who marched with her Dachshund beagle mix named Rocky, the parade was a chance for Rocky to be social with other dogs.
Just three weeks ago, Browne's family lost their 13-year-old dog Gracie, who was Rocky's companion.
"Our neighbors told us about this, we thought it would be good for Rocky," Browne said.
The parade was organized by David Ramos, president of the Smith Park Advisory Council.
"We pulled it off. We've been planning since March and have been blessed with this weather," Ramos said after the festivities, which included a performance by the Jesse White Tumblers and comments from Burnett, City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) and Kathleen Oskandy, a spokeswoman for Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).
In a costume contest, Diva, a Chihuahua dressed as Batman, had the best costume, as determined by the loudest amount of cheers from the crowd. The 6-year-old dog's owner Hector Arce won a stay at a dog-friendly hotel.
Other creative costumes included a bulldog named Mr. Bojangles wearing a Hawaiian lei and carted around in a red wagon with a plastic palm tree and Stanley Pup— encased in a cardboard Stanley Cup sculpture.
A Pomeranian named Tootsie won the best groomed contest. Owner Samia Karaikovic said all props go to her husband, who grooms their beloved 4-year-old pet often.
Tootsie pic.twitter.com/bWmhHG0Ep6— Alisa Hauser (@DNA_WPB) July 29, 2017
Check out scenes from the parade:
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) with his dog, Buddy. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]