New York City’s dog parade has a quite long history which is directly related to Tompkins Square Park in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan. In the 1980s, it was a dangerous place that was a center for illegal drug dealing and contained encampments of homeless people. The park became a symbol of the city’s increased social problems. However, dog owners who walked their pets in Tompkins Square Park were not willing to give up their place in the park. A group of volunteers initiated park renovation.
In 1990, the Tompkins Square Dog Run opened as a part of the renovation of the park. The run is managed and funded by the community. Dog owners raised money and organized volunteers to make the city’s first dog run a reality. Today even those New Yorkers who aren’t particularly fond of dogs acknowledge that the dog run was instrumental in changing the character of the park.
Dog run patrons regularly host fundraisers to raise money to maintain the run. One such fundraiser is the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. This is the biggest dog Halloween party in the United States (and arguably the largest dog costume parade in the world, at least according to CNN). It features some of the cutest and most creative Halloween costumes you’ve ever seen.
The Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade boasts an annual attendance of hundreds of dogs in costumes and thousands of spectators. Dressed up dogs and their proud owners (many of whom dress up themselves in matching outfits) compete for valuable prizes provided by sponsors. Participation doesn’t require pre-registration, although participants are encouraged to make a donation at the door. Runway competition begins at noon. After Best in Show is announced, the parade begins.