League for Animals and People for the Summit to host Mardi Gras-inspired event for dogs and families
Mardi Paws Barkus Parade
Date: March 1
Time: 2 p.m. registration, 3-5 p.m. parade, 4:30 p.m. Crowning of Doggie King, Queen and Court and prizes
Location: Registration and parade start at 2nd Street and Main Street in Frisco
Cost: When registering before the event: $20 for the first dog, each dog after the first is $10, people and kids are free. Price will be slightly higher for registration on the day of the event. Those who have participated in the Tubbs Romp to Stomp will have $5 of their registration fee donated to Susan G. Komen.
Volunteers: Interested in volunteering? Contact Katie McDermot at firstname.lastname@example.org
The holiday of Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is known for its somewhat wild character, with parades, beads and a devil-may-care atmosphere. But Belinda Griffin, of Frisco, wanted to find a way to celebrate Mardi Gras that would be conducive to families, children and pets.
Belinda moved to Summit County with her husband, Raymond Griffin, in 2010. Hailing from Louisiana, the couple opened the Lost Cajun restaurant on Frisco Main Street. Belinda became involved in community events, including the idea to host a Mardi Gras-style event that focused on family and pet-friendly activities. She thought that a “Barkus parade” would be just the thing.
“In New Orleans, there’s this parade called Bacchus,” said Raymond Griffin. “It’s the biggest, most elaborate parade that there is, and the community that lives down around Bourbon Street decided to do a spoof and make a ‘Barkus’ parade and parade their dogs around.”
The dog parade has become popular over the years, he said, with pet owners dressing their dogs up in elaborate and extravagant costumes.
“Since everybody in Summit County’s got a dog, she thought the Barkus parade would be a good idea,” Raymond said.
The Griffins talked about it for some time, but could never quite get it organized. Then, in July 2012, Belinda lost her 12-year battle with breast cancer and passed away.
Now, the Lost Cajun and the town of Frisco have come together with the League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS) to put on Frisco’s first Mardi Paws Barkus Parade.
“Everyone has a dog, and everyone thinks their dog is the prettiest and the smartest, so it’s the perfect fit for Frisco,” Raymond said.
The parade will take place Saturday, March 1, starting at the corner of Second Street and Main Street. Participants can register ahead of time or at the event, starting at 2 p.m. The parade will start at 3 p.m. on Second Street, follow the sidewalk down to Seventh Street, cross the street and go back up to Second Street.
People, including children and adults, may join the parade for free. Dogs will cost $20 to register (for the first dog, and $10 for each dog after). Registration not only gets the dog into the parade, but also enters it into the costume competition to win prizes.
“We encourage everybody to dress up,” said LAPS board member Cristi Eckert. That means dogs as well as owners.
People can dress their dogs however they like, although there are a handful of categories they can aim for, including King of the Cajuns and Queen of the Romp (the main Barkus royalty), Jester with Jaws, Knight of the Food Table, Duchess of Diva, Baroness of Bark, Diamond Dog, Best in Pink Pooch and Belinda’s Pink Wild Card. The categories are all open to interpretation, Eckert said. Raymond said the Lost Cajun is putting up some cash for the crowing of the king and queen.
At the end of the parade, all participating pooches will line up according to category to be evaluated by a panel of three judges, who will award prizes.
In addition to the parade, the Lost Cajun will be giving out free gumbo, and a variety of games will be on hand, including a dog-themed cornhole game and ring toss-style “Collar Catch” game.
The parade coincides with the Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, a fundraising event for Susan G. Komen, an organization that does research for breast cancer. People are encouraged to participate in both events — the Romp in the morning and the parade in the afternoon. For each registering participant that was also part of the Romp to Stomp, $5 of their registration fee will be donated to Susan G. Komen. The proceeds from the parade go to benefit LAPS, a local nonprofit organization that supports pets and pet owners in Summit County.
“People can bring their whole family with them (to the Romp) and after the Romp, the dog can have a whole event of their own,” said Eckert.
Eckert also knew Belinda before she passed away.
“She was one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. She treated everybody like they were her friend, right off. You could just meet her and she’d act like you were a great friend of hers. She had a nice smile and she just made people feel comfortable,” Eckert said. “She just loved the events and the holidays. She definitely loved to be part of the community.”
“It’s a great thing,” Raymond said of the parade, “and part of it is a tribute to (Belinda), but the main goal of this is to get the local families a family-fun event that they can do for Mardi Gras. … We’re going to be the only group in the United States, besides New Orleans, that does the Barkus parade. Now we’re finally doing it and I’m very excited about it.”
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