Parade brings family, community together

Zoe Greszler • Updated Sep 14, 2018 at 10:30 PM

The crowd might not have been huge for the 2018 Pet ‘N’ Pup parade, but neither the participants nor organizers seemed to mind.

About 25 participants and their pets lined up at Main Street School on Friday evening, donning their best rendition of the theme “The Secret Life of Pets” — whether those pets were dogs, rabbits, chickens or guinea pigs. The parade was held in conjunction with Imagine Norwalk festivities.

Crowned as Pet ‘N’ Pup royalty this year were Harrison Whitman, 8, of Norwalk, and Ava Deel, 10, of Willard.

Whitman, who came with 2-year-old Chicken Little, as a witch chicken and its deviled egg, said it was “pretty cool” to be crowned king and that he was happy with his costume.

“Wicked chickens lay deviled eggs,” the son of Robert Whitman said. 

“I like to spend time with my chickens. I like to play with them,” Whitman said of his family’s 19 farm chickens. He chose to bring Chicken Little because she is his favorite.

“When we put her outside two years ago with the other chickens, she tripped and fell and all the other chickens tackled her. So now she’s free range and so every time we come outside she runs up to us,” he said. “She’s not very wicked right now, though, because she’s scared.”

Deel, the daughter of Lisa, said she, too, was “honored” to become the parade’s queen, adding that her costume depicting Charlotte’s Web took about three months get ready.

“I watched the movie for my first time like three months ago and I thought it would be a cool idea,” she said of her costume choice. “Charlotte wasn’t that big but it’s good.”

Event organizer and city recreation director Niki Cross said participation numbers are “a little lower” than years past, which she said may have been due to the event taking place on a Friday.

“I’m OK with the turnout, though,” she said. “I’m glad people were able to come out. ... We have a lot of bunnies this year. Chickens and bunnies, which I’m not used to seeing, but that’s great.”

Cross said she was impressed by the level of creativity with this year’s costumes.

“It’s nice to see the kids actually plan an outfit and the parents with them,” she said. “It’s emphasizing that family time and working together and that’s why we do this — even if we have a low turnout — to continue to encourage families to do these fun things like this together.” 

Mother-daughter duo Faith and Jossalynn McCoy, 11, of Norwalk, joined their Pomeranians Koby and Bailey to portray a trip to the salon where both pups and Jossalyn were getting new hairdos from their stylist mother. The McCoys won first place in the parade’s family category.

“We wanted to do something with fake legs and came up with the hair salon,” Faith McCoy said. “I’ve just always liked costumes and I’ve seen a lot of really neat ones that use fake legs and thought I really would like to try that.”

The salon chair was an old tri-fold aluminum chair that the McCoys broke out a Sawzall for, cutting it into pieces and then re-gluing and bolting it into place so it looked just right. All together they said the project took a couple weeks, creating plenty of family bonding time.

This was far from the family’s first rodeo, though. Jossalynn was crowned the 2016 Pet ‘N’ Pup queen when they created a Barnum and Bailey-themed animal cracker costume.

“We’re all about costumes and we really love Halloween,” Jossalynn McCoy said.

“We do it every year (making our own costumes),” the mother said. “That’s how my parents raised us — family comes first. When I was little, my parents would make costumes for me, so it’s been going on even since then.

“We do family costumes every year and we all work together — even my dad helps and my husband. We never have just costumes where you just (grab and) go. We started doing costumes in our family when she was 1 and we’ve done it since then every year. And our dogs go everywhere with us and it’s really nice then to incorporate them.”

Jossaynn, a fifth grade Monroeville student who wants to be a teacher when she grows up, said she enjoys the time with the community as well.

“I kind of think (the Pet ‘N’ Pup Parade) is good because it’s like everybody gets to interact together and with the city and we basically just get to be together and have fun,” she said.

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