Dogs Celebrate “Howl-O-Ween” on Boards in Ocean City
By ADRIANA ALFARO
Two googly eyes and a wet tongue looked up at the Leipold family. Their pup, Freddy, wore a cowboy hat and a bandana in coordination with his dad.
“He hates his hat but loves it here,” Jane Leipold chuckled.
Ocean City prohibits dogs from the Boardwalk for the bulk of the year. However, on Saturday, the Humane Society of Ocean City (HSOC) dedicated an entire day to the second annual Howl-O-Ween Parade, which raises money to find homes for shelter animals.
Over 130 dogs registered to strut in the parade this year. Families showed up in coordinating and intricate costumes for a fun time.
The zany Pet of the Year contest has been a favorite event in Ocean City for the past 17 years. Every year, the contest begins with eager pooch parents filling out applications.
The selection of the 12 finalists is the next phase. The finalists are notified, and the games begin.
Live music serenaded the crowd Saturday, and a handful of vendors set up shop to sell homemade dog treats and accessories.
Gianna McIntyre traveled from West Deptford to enjoy the parade with her dog, who wore a werewolf costume. She sat along the Boardwalk with her pup in her lap, giggling at the variety of costumes.
Humane Society of Ocean City shelter manager, Diana Dolan, excitedly watched the parade from a tent while providing information about the HSOC.
“We are selling merchandise and raising money for our shelter,” Dolan said.
Jenna Callender, communications manager at the HSOC, said, “It’s going to be a fun event and all the money goes to the Humane Society and some other great organizations. We can use all the help we can get.”
Special guest Bernie Parent, the legendary former Philadelphia Flyers goalie, showed up with his dog and wife to lead the parade.
“This is probably the most pet-trifying event of the season,” laughed Phil Bellucci, operations and development director of HSOC.
A little after 3 p.m., Scout was named Pet of the Year. Scout was described as a little dog with a big personality.
“Loved by many, easy to talk to, and good-looking. Not very modest,” stated his pet biography.
The Ocean City Dog Park Association launched the Dog of the Year contest in 2005 to generate funds and awareness about the need for a dog park in Ocean City. Tina Wagner assisted in hosting this event, while Pamela Whitman designed the contest platform.
With the dog park being completed and well-funded, it became apparent that the natural progression would be to provide support for the HSOC. Since 2017, the HSOC has proudly taken over the running of the contest, continued the tradition, and built on the success of the yearly event.