As if dogs aren’t cute enough to start with, you can check out a parade of them in costumes as part of North Branford Unleashed’s Bark in the Park fundraiser, which is this Saturday, Oct. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Totoket Valley Park.
“We’ve got a full day of events planned with fun for the whole family and, of course, the dogs,” said Eric Hodgson, who began advocating for the park after moving to town in 2011. “It will just be a great way to come down, enjoy each other and meet other dog lovers in town.”
The park is an apt setting for the fundraiser as the proposed location for the dog park is behind the rapidly developing baseball fields on the Swajchuk Property. The event kicks off with a Wag-a-Thon – a three-mile walk around the property, including through the area that could possibly be the future dog park. Registration for the Wag-a-thon, which begins at 8:30 a.m., is $20 per family.
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At 10 a.m., the fun at the park begins. There will be vendors and demonstrations, including groomers, a veterinarian speaking on canine obesity, various types of dog supplies and refreshments – for dogs and their people.
There are lots of events scheduled throughout the day, including the Frisbee dog contest that used to be a part of the Potato and Corn Festival at 10 a.m., an animal blessing at noon and a pet costume parade at 12:30 p.m. Poochie Play is sponsoring the costume parade and will be judging the event. There will be prizes for the winner and people can register their dogs that day.
There will also be a police K9 demonstration and a pet trick contest. The fun isn’t limited to just the dogs, though, as there will be kids’ activities and a raffle, too.
“Tons of people have donated so many great things,” said Hodgson. “We’re certainly building momentum and the more people we get involved, the more successful it will be.”
Though there is no charge to attend Bark in the Park, there will be a donation table and registration fees collected for the Wag-a-Thon and costume parade will also benefit North Branford Unleashed.
When the Town Council okay’ed the group’s fundraising, it was with the stipulation that North Branford Unleashed would raise the $10,000 needed for phase one within two years. Since July, the group has raised more than $1,600 through its table at the Potato and Corn Festival and online donations.
“After that [the $10,000 is raised], the town will commit to the exact location and the process,” said Hodgson. “If people can’t come to the event but want to get involved, they can see what we’re up to on Facebook or donate online.”
While Hodgson is happy to see this project gaining momentum, there is something even better that he has gotten out of the experience.
“One of the best parts about this is that I’ve made a lot of good friends throughout this process,” he said. “There are about 20 core people involved and it keeps growing. The more people realize that it could be a reality, the more willing they are to be supportive.”