West Town Dog Parade successful tribute to Chicago Parks


Dogs meet their leader as the parade assembles at Commercial Park

Keeping kids off the streets and in Chicago's Parks was the inspiration, says David Ramos, President, Smith Park Advisory Council (SPAC), for the 1st Annual West Town Dog Parade that began in Commercial Park, 1845 W. Rice St., and ended in Smith Park, 2526 W. Grand Ave. on July 29.


Snoopy was parade's lead "dog"

Over a 100 registrants fell into step behind the lead car driven by Officer Chris Schenck, Chicago Police Department's 12th District CAPS office head. With the lead dog, Snoopy, waving from a horse drawn carriage, political officials, organizers and registrants walked behind as vehicles from the Anti Cruelty Society, Jesse White Tumblers and the American Glory Food Truck rolled along. 


City Clerk Anna Valencia (C) with sash and Alderman Moreno (R) march in parade from Commercial to Smith Park

Walkers were led by City and Ward officials. They included: City Clerk Anna Valencia, Aldermen Proco "Joe" Moeno, 1st Ward, Walter Burnett, Jr., 27th Ward, Roberto Maldonado, 26th Ward, (represented by Kathleen Osksndy), and Travis Bogle, Smith Park's Supervisor. Each spoke to the audience in Smith Park before the high flying Jesse White Tumblers performed and  the Best Dressed and Best Groomed contests were judged. 


Alderman Burnett talked about being a lover of dogs, his latest is in lower right corner above

Dog Parade
Many canines got their humans to dress up too [such as a Game of Thrones and an ice cream centric family], but not all entrants participated in the whole family dress-up concept. While many dogs were uniquely dressed or part of a "set" many just came out for the walk. 

Judges Nani Almendarez, Vice president SPAC; Ellen Ernst, Secretary SPAC; Rodrigo Carillo, Deputy Chief City Clerk's office; and Chicago Police officer Eriberto "Eddie" Claudio, 12th District, were challenged to select the three top dogs in the Best Dressed and Best Groomed categories before the audience was tasked with making the final vote. 


Officer Orlando was on hand with his K9 partner, who is trained to find explosives

Vying for very desirable prizes from three downtown hotels, Hotel Thompson, Hotel Indigo and Hotel Talbott; gift certificates for a Free Detail from Bert's Car Wash; dining at Original House of Pancakes; and for output Bar & Grill, the contestants winnings were determined by claps and cheers from the audience. 


Batman is in his bat mobile

The top dog winner for Best Dressed went to Nancy Villagomez's Batman who was in his own Bat Mobile. Villagomez who is part of Smith Park staff, said that she was inspired by a heroes theme project that kids were doing in Smith Park. 


StanleyPup gets a welcomed ear scratch

Amanda Hiler originally thought about a theme around corn, like a corn cob. However she chose a very Chicago winning theme of the Stanley Cup. Behind the shine of the tin foil, said Hiler, second placed "Stanley" was laying on a cushion. 


Bojangles and Jean Claude check out some of their competition

Travis and Emily Bogle's Hawaiian team of Bojangles and Jean Claude garnered third prize as they lounged under a palm tree wearing their leis. 


Tootsie is with her human, Samia Karaikovic

Best Groomed was determined to be the chocolate colored Pomeranian, Tootsie, whose "mom" is Samia Karaikovic.


Sonia Garcia talks to Ivy

Sonia Garcia's Ivy, dressed in a custom made frock made by her "grandmother," took home second place. Princess Elegant, who her human Tiffany Henson said had her nails and a Brazilian the day before, took third prize. 


Princess awaits a chance to move on to her royal chores

Judge Carillo, who has two dogs of his own, said, "Creativity was out of this world for the costumes. I believe that we should celebrate our pets every time we have a chance." 


BobDog takes a rest

While some were dressed as angels and others were dressed to be the opposite, there was one who was a chicken want-to-be while another apparently dreamed of being on the back -forty with a cowboy on his back. 


With each jump, another person was added to increase the length of the jump

The Park's often formally attired BobDog mascot appeared to be in disguise for the event, showing up as a large lobster. 


This jumps were timed to be one after another

Jesse White Tumblers
Jesse White Tumblers, consisting of boys and girls, put on approximately a 20-minute show that kept the audience in awe as they jumped high and wide over obstacles. 

Three vendors showed support for the first-time held event by having a table. They were: Anti-Cruelty Society, PAWS and Canine Crews in addition to American Glory Food Truck, owner Jeff Doornbos. 

Behind the scenes
This event had a team of organizers and workers behind the multi-hour, two-location event. They were: 

David R. Ramos, Smith Park Advisory Council and Parade Chairman
Jay Ramirez, 1st Ward
Veronica Ramirez, 1st Ward
Dana Blaylock, 1st Ward
Dean Arrigris, 2nd Ward
Nilda Montanez, 26th Ward
Karen Gutierrez, 27th Ward
Kate Le Fergy, Chicago City Clerk Office
Allen Holcomb, Chicago Animal Care and Control
Travis Bogle, Supervisor, Smith Park
Shandrel Young, Supervisor Commercial Park
Kate Mc Kenna, West Town Chamber of Commerce 


The Organizers includ David Ramos, Veronica Ramirez, Karen Gutierrez, Dana Blaylock, Kate Le Furgy, Jay Ramierez and Travis Bogle

Dog entrants were required to be registered with the City Clerk's office before being entered into the Parade. 

While the event was to celebrate man's four-legged, tail-wagging friends, Ramos looks long term as to how much this City's parks are vital to the community and how to engage more  participation of today's youth as well as adults in the many opportunities in Chicago Parks.

"It's a shame that Buys and Girls Clubs are closing their doors because of lack of funding," says Ramos. "Our parks are the only place for kids to be safe and off the streets. Thanks to Parks Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly and all that he has been doing in parks across the city." 

While Commercial Park has a large field house like Smith Park, Smith has an outdoor pool, tennis courts, three baseball diamonds and a soccer field for all ages to enjoy.



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