Friday was a busy night downtown as Norwalk’s 2017 Pet ‘N’ Pup Parade marched down Main Street behind Norwalk High School’s homecoming parade while a bike rodeo and Imagine Norwalk also took place.
The annual pet-related activity, hosted by the Norwalk Parks and Recreation department, featured giant spiders, “Guardians of the Galaxy” members, superheros, bicentennial ladies, a circus crew and more following the NHS homecoming parade’s band and floats.
The pet portion bowed out of the grand march at Main Street School, where the families were directed down to Suhr Park for the royalty announcement and prizes distribution.
This year's queen, Analiese King, 12, dressed as a 19th century woman pushing a vintage baby carriage carrying her dog, Lilly.
King, the daughter of Randall and Andrea King, complied with the organizers’ request to follow a bicentennial theme.
The king, Dominic Blaisdell, 8, and his shihtzhu Caesar dressed as an Army and Navy duo.
Blaisdell is the son of Gary Lieber and Teresa LeMar.
Costume judging began at 5 p.m. in front of Norwalk Public Library, a last-minute venue change. Prior to that afternoon, parade participants were told to meet down the street at Norwalk First United Methodist Church. But officials feared there wouldn’t be enough room at the church lot for the homecoming parade and Pet ‘N’ Pup participants, so the library allowed the latter to meet there, parks director Nikki Cross said.
The Friday evening affair was a break in tradition for the Pet ‘N’ Pup Parade, which usually takes place on a Saturday morning in conjunction with a downtown festival.
With fewer than 20 entries, there were more prizes than winners, Cross said.
“Numbers were definitely down this year,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s because it was on a Friday instead of Saturday, or because it was so close to the end of the work day at 5 p.m. But it was really nice to be able to provide a prize for all of the kids. Fewer numbers, but they all got prizes. That’s nice.”
For the winners of the family costume category, the victory was a little bittersweet.
Norwalk’s David and Shannon Ditz and their 5-year-old son Bradley won last year’s family category, dressing up as characters from “Jurrasic World.” This year, the family with their German shepherd Moana repeated as champs in that category for their “Guardians of the Galaxy” themed costumes. David, though, wasn’t able to be participate this year because he is serving in the military in Afghanistan.
He was deployed in April, but not before the family went to see the “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” movie in theaters. Shannon said the family knew then that it was going to be their costume theme for the Pet ’N’ Pup Parade.
“It was fun to win again, and we try to get lots of pics for Dad,” his wife said. “Dad will be back next year so hopefully we can do another big family idea.”