By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 1, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 3, 2013, in the Beverly Your Town site of the Boston Globe, and in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)
BEVERLY—Kids aren’t the only ones who’ll be running around in costumes this Halloween. On Saturday, Oct. 5 from 12:00-3:00 pm at the Beverly Commons, owners will bring their costumed canines to compete in the Beverly Dog Park’s Fourth Annual Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest.
“We came up with the costume contest four years ago to gain exposure for a potential dog park,” said Erinn Powers, 33, the park’s committee chair. “We wanted to let the community know we were working on finding land and raising money to put aside for the future park.”
According to Powers, the contest caught the attention of Beverly’s Mayor William Scanlon. As a dog owner himself, Scanlon supported the idea for a dog park and proposed several locations. After a public meeting held at the Beverly Public Library, it was decided that Paddle’s Park, named after the mayor’s golden retriever, would be located on LP Henderson road next to the Beverly Municipal Airport.
Powers said there are usually about 30-40 entries of people with their pooches at each Howl-O-Ween contest. Last year, a couple from Boston won the grand prize with their dog Chip as the Lorax and themselves as trees.
“It’s important to do fundraisers like this,” said Bruce Doig, Beverly Director of Parks and Recreation, “not only to celebrate the fact that we have a great dog park, but also to make people aware of it and encourage dog owners to take advantage of it.”
With two divisions for the contest, one for small dogs and one for large dogs, each owner walks his or her dog to the front of a judges’ table where the dog is introduced and the judges take notes. Winning awards are presented to three small dogs and three large dogs, for funniest costume, scariest costume and best team/duo, before a grand prize is awarded. Winners receive a gift certificate of their choice, donated from various local businesses, and a bone for the pup. The grand prize winner receives a large gift basket donated by Unleashed by Petco in the North Beverly Plaza.
“We believe it is really important for dogs to have a safe place to get social and physical exercise,” said Jenn Cyr, 27, store manager of Unleashed. “The dog park is such a big part of the community and a lot of our customers go there on a regular basis.”
The contest is open to all and costs a $15 dollar entry fee plus $5 for each additional dog. The money will go towards poop bags, gardening supplies, and the general upkeep and improvement of Paddle’s Park. Raffle tickets for gift cards will also be sold.
“We've had so many adorable costumes, from a turkey or a peacock to a group of fish and a submarine boat to spaghetti and meatballs,” Powers said. “They are all so creative!”
Other activities include a decorative photo station for owners to get pictures with their pets, face painting for children, and food by the Scotty Dog, a hot dog joint on Rantoul St. in Beverly. There will also be over 100 goodie bags handed out to contestants, courtesy of Unleashed.
Julie Torode, 45, of Danvers attended the contest a few years ago to support the dog park, and said she may attend this year if she can.
“My sister actually dressed her dog up as the big bad wolf and she was little red riding hood,” she said. “It’s a fun reason to get some costumes for your dogs and see the goofy outfits people put their dogs in.”