The annual Pet ‘N’ Pup Parade again will join Imagine Norwalk for an evening of family fun. The parade, which encourages children of all ages, and even whole families, to dress themselves and their pets in a theme and parade down Main Street. The theme this year is “The Secret Life of Pets” — the movie that will be shown around dusk in Suhr Park.
“Hopefully people will bring all animals of any kind and their costumes of animals,” Imagine Norwalk organizer Lynn Berry said.
“It’ll be interesting to see how people view their pets and what they come up with. … You know, what do you see your dog as — an officer, a lawyer, a three-ring circus animal? It’ll be fun.”
Costume judging begins at 5:15 p.m. sharp at Main Street School. The parade will begin from there at 6 p.m., ending at Suhr Park, where prizes will be awarded to the winners in each category and the new Pet ‘N’ Pup king and queen will be crowned.
“It just makes sense to me that we have the two events together,” Berry said. “We’re coming together as a community (for Imagine Norwalk). Why not come together as a family at the same time? We’re all celebrating; let’s celebrate together.”
Norwalk recreation director Niki Cross agreed, adding that Imagine Norwalk will make a “nice” collaboration, allowing families to continue with festivities after the parade.
“We’re always trying to come up with ways to reach out to families and children,” Cross said. “And as the park and rec department, it’s important to us to encourage family time and for children to be creative. This program definitely gets their creative juices flowing and, of course, includes their pets as well. It really emphasizes the family. That’s what we stand for as the park and rec department.”
After receiving their awards, which are provided by sponsors Norwalk Veterinary Medical Center and Custom Auto Collision and Paint, families can enjoy a chili cook off, which is taking place at Suhr Park, starting at 5:30 p.m. Imagine Norwalk and Milan Baptist Church will host the free event and all are welcome to enter and taste test. Games, activities and face paintings also will be offered.
Square dancing also will be taking place near the park, beginning at 5:30 p.m. when the rest of the musical performances and vendors will be setting up.
The charity that will benefit from the night’s donations and proceeds is the Starfish Project, a local non-profit organization helping teens and adults with “life-controlling issues” such as addiction through a faith-based residential recovery program.
“It’s like everyone knows everyone during Imagine Norwalk and there’s a lot of pride in the community with the event,” Berry said.
“Last year, we had a really good turn out (for the joint event). Hopefully this year will be just as good. ... It’s going to be a good time and we should have nice weather.”
The forecast is calling for partly sunny skies and a high near 83. As the sun starts to set, the weather should be perfect for a family movie in the park, with a low around 66. The complete forecast can be found on Page A-5.
For pet and family activities, the fun doesn’t stop tonight. The Pool Pooch Spash and Swim will take place 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s a weekend for the pets and families,” Cross said. “Last year, we had 72 dogs. We’ll have to see if we can beat that. It’s a fun event and … a very family-friendly event everyone can enjoy.”