La Grange Pet Parade

La Grange Pet Parade
Every year, the village of La Grange, Illinois hosts a pet parade to promote responsible pet ownership and support the health and care of animals in metro Chicago. Founded in 1947, the La Grange Pet Parade is considered the oldest event of its kind in the United States.

The La Grange Pet Parade was inaugurated in 1947 by the La Grange Chamber of Commerce. It was the Chamber’s president Ed Breen, owner of Breen’s Cleaners, who came up with the idea of bringing the local community together through a child and pet costume parade and contest marching down the main street of La Grange. The inaugural event was a success, and so a beloved tradition was born.

Over the following decades, the pet parade grew to include entries from local schools, non-profit groups and businesses, but it was still always planned by local entrepreneurs. Throughout the 1970s into the 1990s, the La Grange Pet Parade was televised by WGN. In the 1990s, LLTV (Lyons Township High School TV) took over and started filming the event and broadcasting it on local access cable.

Since 1999, the La Grange Pet Parade has been funded and managed by a non-profit with a board of directors. Originally called Pets & Pals Charities, the non-profit was renamed Pet Parade Charities in 2016. Every year, Pet Parades Charities raises money to offset the costs of sound systems and paid entertainment acts, and hire a part-time employee to take care of parade logistics and communication. The non-profit gives back to the community by hiring entertainment acts that are themselves non-profit organizations and providing grants to pet non-profits in the area.

The La Grange Pet Parade is usually held on the last Saturday of May or the first Saturday of June, marking the beginning of summer. On the day of the event, the procession marches through downtown La Grange along a route of approximately 1.5 miles. It consists of children and groups/families with a variety of pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, farm animals), as well as non-profit organizations and/or clubs that participate with floats and other entries. The colorful and vibrant procession draws an estimated 15,000 spectators from the area and beyond every year.

Individual participants and groups/families with pets can participate in the Pet & Owner Costume Contest, with prizes such as electronics, gift cards, and parade swag. Floats participate in a separate competition, where judges choose six best floats that receive trophies.

The La Grange Pet Parade has a long history of notable Grand Marshals. Past Grand Marshals have included donkeys and elephants from Brookfield Zoo Chicago in 1948, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter Luci Baynes Johnson in 1964, and actors Susan Dey and Denny Bonaduce from the musical sitcom The Partridge Family in 1971.

On the weekend of the Pet Parade, the La Grange Business Organization hosts the La Grange Carnival with carnival rides for children, various games of skill and chance, and food and beverage vendors. The carnival runs throughout the entire weekend, providing entertainment for the whole family.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next year, it was postponed until September for the same reason.

La Grange Pet Parade





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