Numerous locals gathered on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk with their dogs on Sunday, Oct. 8 for the second annual Rockaway Dog Parade sponsored by Pawlacio Pets, “the first and only” pet care facility on the peninsula since February 2022.
Hosted by pet expert Dana Humphrey, who is also known as “The Pet Lady,” the event’s proceeds benefited the Allied Rockaway Foundation for Animal Recreation and Fitness (ARF-ARF), a nonprofit organization that supports and oversees the peninsula’s dog parks. Humphrey started the event last year in hopes of bringing people together in common cause.
“In a world and a neighborhood that is so divided, red versus blue, black versus white, vaccine versus anti-vax, I wanted to create an opportunity for neighbors to get together for something fun and non-charged,” Humphrey said during last year’s parade. “Let’s be together in unison, instead of separation.”
Now an annual tradition, the dog parade began at noon at the roller hockey rink at Beach 108th Street and continued for 13 blocks until the group reached the Rockaway Beach amphitheater between Beach 94th and 95th Street for the “after-pawty.”
Originally, the dog parade was set to take place on Sept. 24, but was ultimately canceled due to heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Ophelia. While Oct. 8 proved to be a chilly day, many owners still showed up with their dogs to support the event.
“Thank you everyone for showing up for us today despite the chill,” Pawlacio Pets owner Florence Chong told the crowd. “Sorry we didn’t make Sept. 24, but we made it this time!”
With a “Dogtoberfest” theme in mind, each dog in the parade wore a costume to compete for a chance to win prizes. The judges for the competition were Bobbi Mitchell of Pups on the Runway, Samantha Cintron of Nurture U Wellness, local pet sitter Kate “Captain Rockaway Rizzo” Ragazzino, Bettina Hornung of “The Bettina Show, and Jody Blanco of Pawlacio Pets.
In true Rockaway fashion, the judges spectated the parade from nearby lifeguard chairs and marked down their choices for the overall best dressed, funniest and best matching dogs.
The third place honor and best matching dogs title went to “The Farmer Twins,” who were dressed in flannel shirts and overalls. The doggy duo, Simba and Oreo, went home with a gift basket from Connor’s Canine Cookies.
The second place honor and funniest dog title went to Gia, who wore a Native American white dress and feather headband in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 9. Gia was awarded with a gift certificate for an animal communication session with Jill Lauri, a local animal communicator.
Other runners-up for the competition included The Godfather Pups, Bella and the Beast, Rock Star Jiminy, The Little Mermaid and Jeter the Jockey, who all went home with prizes.
The first place honor and overall best dressed title went to Lady the Unicorn, a pink-dyed great pyrenees with a horn on her head. Lady, who was rescued by her owners Sean and Amneris McDonnell, won a premium, annual membership with TrustedHousesitters.
The McDonnells, along with their sons Michael and Maximus, thanked the judges for the honor and expressed their appreciation for Pawlacio Pets.
“I love Florence [Chong] and Pawlacio [Pets],” Amneris said. “[It’s] a great addition to the community.”
“This is such a beautiful cause,” Sean added. “Dog is love,” he said in reference to Pawlacio Pets’ tagline. “That really hits it right on the nose.”