The 31st annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade took place on Saturday at the East River Park Amphitheater, to the delight of many and the consternation of others — specifically the activists who are trying to prevent imminent destruction of a beautiful, much loved and well used public space.
Thousands of spectators watched as the protesters marched across the stage, interrupting the parade of over 250 furry contestants to call attention to the East River Action group, with a large banner and smaller signs that proclaimed “Dogs against ecocide” and “Carlina you’re killing our park” — a slam at City Council Member Carlina Rivera.
More than one concerned park lover criticized the parade spectators, pointing out that huge numbers of people showed up for this event but haven’t participated in the protests that are aimed at preserving greenspace near the East River.
Despite the interruptions, the event continued smoothly thereafter, with a procession of pets competing for prizes in various categories, such as Current Events, New York City, Entertainment and the ‘Punniest’ costumes.
Store bought outfits were ineligible and the creative community did not disappoint with their takes on Maleficent, The Wizard of Oz, Super Heroes, Super Villains, politicians, the Cat in the Hat, Best Chihuahua, Essential Workers and a variety of trans-species getups.
Stephanie Simon of NY1 looked like she was having a blast as MC during the 2 1/2 hour presentation of contestants and through the award presentation.
Ruben Santana took the prize for Best in Show with his pup Amun, in a float that thanked essential workers. Abby Bean was close behind with her companion, named 89, portraying ‘Bark Obama” in a tableau created by ‘Kehinde Woofy’ for a win in the Current Events category. Materials noted were “fur, fabric, plastic flowers”.
Ada Nieves, one of the organizers, has seven dogs herself. “This was wonderful,” she told us when it was all over (except, of course, for the barking).
Continuing, she said, “What I love most is to see the ideas, the creations,” while adding that “the pets helped us get through the pandemic – the dogs rescued the city.”
The annual Dog Parade benefits the Tompkins Square Park Dog Run, an independently financed dog park. Info on donating your time or money can be found at tompkinssquaredogrun.com.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.