A howlin’ Halloween


Creativity and originality were on full display at Carl Schurz Park during Sunday's Halloween Howl and Healthy Hound Fair. Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

Carl Schurz’s Park annual canine costume competition gives new meaning to a dog day afternoon


BY CHARMAINE P. RICE



Costumed canines proudly paraded their Halloween spirit during the Halloween Howl and Healthy Hound Fair held at Carl Schurz Park Sunday.

“This annual event grows each year. There’s a larger crowd this year and more people registered to enter the competition,” noted Patrick McCluskey, director of operations at the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy.

The park boasts two fenced-in dog runs. One run caters to large dogs, and the other to those of a more petite persuasion. The park’s conservancy relies on donations to maintain the dog runs.

“The first year we held this event, there were eight entrants!” exclaimed Richard Myer, one of the Howl’s co-founders. Myer
was one of seven judges this year. “It just caught on. There are over 200 participants this year and this event just keeps growing.”

So what do the judges look for?

“We look for creativity and originality,” Myer explained. “We like homemade costumes versus store-bought costumes. More importantly, we look to see if the dog appears to be comfortable in the costume. That’s a big component in our decision-making.”

Creativity and originality were certainly on display — the pooches and their proud owners cheerfully showed off their thematic costumes as they paraded in front of the judges, despite the onset of chilly weather.

The competition featured four categories: Kids and Dogs, Group Costumes, Large Dogs and Small Dogs. An honorable mention, second runner-up, first runner-up and a first-place winner was selected in each category.

Costume inspiration drew from Star Wars, the solar system, sea creatures and foodstuffs, including hot dogs, tacos, Starbucks drinks and banana split sundaes.

On the “people” front, the dashing doggies donned up as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sherlock Holmes, Misty Copeland, the ‘Pink Ladies’ from Grease, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and Charlie from the Chocolate Factory.

The event also featured the Healthy Hound Fair, where pet owners had the opportunity to learn about the latest wellness products and services.

Representatives from the event’s sponsors manned tables along the park’s riverfront esplanade, and 25 volunteers assisted with everything from crowd control to photography to emceeing. A silent auction rounded out the festivities.

“All of the proceeds from the Howl benefit the dog runs in the park,” McCluskey said. A $10 donation was requested to enter the costume competition.

The Howl, sponsored this year by the Animal Medical Center, Animal Care Centers of NYC, Biscuits and Bath and Sotheby’s, among others, was conceived about 15 years ago by two area residents who walked their dogs in the park. Today, it is one of the park’s most popular events.