By MADDY VITALE
Get ready for the “dog days” of fall — this month especially — when canines and their human counterparts will walk down the Boardwalk for the third annual “Howl-O-Ween” parade Saturday, Oct. 21. New this year, pooches will be permitted on the boards Sunday, Oct. 22, as well.
The parade begins at 3 p.m. Oct. 21, with a procession from Sixth Street to 14th Street on the Boardwalk. It is being hosted by the Humane Society of Ocean City (HSOC). If it is anything like the past two years, the parade will make for a major family-friendly event and one that pet lovers will enjoy.
Pet owners will stroll with their pooches in Halloween costumes ranging from spooky to adorable.
There will also be vendors selling items for dogs, photo-op stations on the Boardwalk, and the HSOC “Pet of the Year” will be announced.
Many dogs will be in Ocean City for the event, from the diminutive toy breeds to the much larger canine counterparts. All of them will entertain the spectators who will watch along the boards.
Mayor Jay Gillian said that the overwhelming success of the parade spurred the interest in expanding it to allowing dogs on the Boardwalk on Sunday as well for this year.
In addition to the parade, leashed dogs will be allowed on the boards Saturday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gillian explained what will make the weekend so special.
“Pets are part of families. We are all about tradition in Ocean City, and we want to make it special for the visitors. This is an opportunity for people to bring their dogs on the Boardwalk,” Gillian said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s a great event and there is a growing part of our population who has animals for their mental wellness, and I am very supportive of that.”
Dogs are also allowed on the city’s beaches now. From Oct. 1 through April 30 dogs are permitted on the beaches.
“We ask dog owners to be respectful, and we always ask people to clean up after them,” Gillian said. “We need the community to work together.”
Like Gillian, City Councilman Jody Levchuk knows of the rise in interest for pet-friendly events and lodging.
He said that more people have family pets and to be able to be more pet-friendly will possibly increase interest in visiting the resort.
Levchuk, co-owner of his family’s Jilly’s shops on the Boardwalk and downtown, explained that the Boardwalk merchants have been asking for more dog-friendly events.
“The parade has been successful for all three years. A lot of people have asked for more pet-friendly things. We have a lot of second homeowners who say, ‘We can bring Checkers on the boards,’” he said.
Levchuk said not every store will allow the dogs inside on Oct. 21-22, but he and his family have happily opened their doors to people’s pets.
The Levchuks love dogs. They have two — Moses, a Doberman, and Mitzi, a maltipoo.
“Dogs are welcome in our stores that weekend, as long as they are on a leash. It’s going to be a nice weekend,” Levchuk said. “There aren’t a lot of pet-friendly places here, but there are rental properties that do allow pets. This will be a great weekend for pet owners to connect.”