Ghosts, goblins, and good dogs at Haystack Pet Parade

Despite an early threat of rain, plus the presence of twenty some leaping dogs in Halloween costumes, and a few mysterious ghosts and goblins, the First Annual Norfolk Haystack Pet Parade went off without a hitch. 

Overlooking the City Meadow with Haystack Mountain in the distance, the newly enhanced Robertson Plaza in the center of Norfolk was the perfect spot for the lively event, which attracted folks from eight months to eighty years, and their pets.

Organizer Vishal Grover, treasurer of the Norfolk Foundation said, “Vinita Patterson, a Norfolk resident, approached the Norfolk Foundation with the idea of a Halloween costume pet parade. We have been partnering with Mission Impact, the youth group of the Norfolk Church of Christ UCC, and their Pastor Erick Olsen. They helped organize our Halloween event, baking treats and making popcorn, and decorating. The Norfolk Library and Botelle School have been wonderfully supportive in promoting the event.”

The Norfolk Foundation, founded in 2015, is a nonprofit group whose mission is “to contribute to the vitality and sustainability of Norfolk, particularly in relation to the town’s natural setting and multiple artistic and cultural attractions.”

As the crowd began to gather on the cobblestone plaza, dogs of every size, shape, and breed appeared with their humans, some in coordinating costumes. There was a tiny Bichon bumblebee, a massive Superman boxer, a tail-wagging black bat with wings, a Harry Potter terrier, a tiny Yorkie pirate, a hot dog hound, a pumpkin dachshund, and a boisterous black lab with an iridescent dinosaur costume. A gentle retriever had the proper decorum as Sherlock Holmes, and the dog Pippa wore a blonde wig, re-enacting the iconic photograph of a wind-blown Marilyn Monroe- complete with a grid to stand on.

All the dogs and their owners behaved themselves as they paraded around the plaza under the wise gaze of the Owl of Good Fortune, a bronze sculpture by Norfolk resident Jon Riedeman. There was cider and popcorn, home-baked cookies, candies, and a great display of dog treats that were handed out to each patient and cooperative pooch. Even the sun cooperated.  

Vishal Grover credited his dog Teddy with connecting him with more neighbors in Norfolk, from many walks of life. He quoted from the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari: “The dog was the first animal domesticated by Homo sapiens. A 15,000-year bond has yielded a much deeper understanding and affection between humans and dogs than between humans and any other animal.”

Everyone in attendance agreed that the First Annual Haystack Pet Costume Parade was great fun, and will become a Norfolk Halloween tradition.

Erick Olsen and Doreen Kelly with Margaret as a bumblebee. Photo by Jennifer Almquist

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