Pooches on parade in Arlington Park

By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

A lot of towns — including some locally — have some kind of fall or Halloween-related festival each year. But folks from Kearny’s Urban Enterprise Zone wanted to try something different — and that is exactly what will happen this Saturday, Oct. 25, at 11:30 a.m. at Arlington Park (between Forest and Elm Sts. near Midland Ave.).

That’s where the KUEZ will host its first-ever (and, it hopes, annual) Dog Parade.

The idea came about when KUEZ Director John Peneda decided he wanted something unique and autumnal to help attract people to Kearny, in line with the mission of a UEZ. He and a few others brainstormed, and with the closest dog parade being in either Bayonne or Montclair, the decision was made to give it a try in Kearny.

“We want people to come to Kearny from other towns, and that’s why the UEZ exists — to help businesses and to attract people who maybe have never been to Kearny to shop,” Peneda said. “We want as many people as possible to know there’s a lot more to Kearny than what people might know.”

So the hope is that Kearny and non-Kearny residents alike who are dog owners and lovers will make their way to Arlington Park to enter their dogs into the “parade.”

Peneda said that the event will be more like a fashion show for dogs, with owners “parading” their dogs before judges.

“What will happens is we’ll have a stage set up near the old railroad tracks,” Peneda said. “The owners will come across the stage with their dogs — and go before judges. So it will be like a runway, something you might see at a fashion show … or a beauty contest.”

There will be two categories for the contest: Dogs 40 pounds and lighter, and dogs 40 pounds and heavier. From each category, there will be two winners: One for the best dog and the other for best dog and owner.

So what that all means is the dogs should, at the very least, be in some sort of Halloween costume. While it’s not required for the humans, those who do show up in unique costumes will have a better chance at winning some sort of prize.

“So let’s say the dog is dressed up as Batman, and the owner as Robin, they’ll be eligible for a different prize,” Peneda said. “It’s a great way for the dogs and their owners to dress up together.”

On the day of the event, it won’t just be the contest, either. There will be representatives from eateries with food for humans and pets to buy, the Bergen County Animal Shelter will be on hand, the Hudson County Sheriff ’s K-9 Unit will be there — and there will be other activities for kids and the dogs.

Plus, local photographer Diane D. Tilley will be on hand to take, for a nominal fee, photos of the dogs and their owners, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Bergen County Animal Shelter.

So it should be an allaround great day for humans and canines alike. As of late last week, 20 dogs had been registered for the parade, according to Peneda.

“As long as the weather cooperates,” Peneda said. “We’ll just have to hope for the best.”

Peneda has earmarked $7,000 for the program, including fees for event coordinator Linda Kraus D’Isa, banners, rental of sound equipment and tables, prizes and advertising, but he said he expected to come in under budget.

Advance registration is required — and all owners must be able to document that their dogs are up-todate with rabies shots and that they’re properly licensed in their hometowns. To register, visit www.kearnynj.org and visit the KUEZ’s section on the website. Or, go to the KUEZ office at the Town Hall Annex, 402 Kearny Ave.

Registration is free and it is possible, depending on how many registrants there are ahead of time, that dayof- event registration will be available.

For additional information, call the KUEZ office at 201- 955-7905.

The Observer Staff