Carolyn Younger | Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 12:00 am
It was the Year of the Dog at the St. Helena Pet Parade Saturday, despite the best efforts of Razz Ma Tazz, a horse from Sunrise Stables; a scorpion named Roxy, a Guinea pig with the dubious name of Bedhead, an elegant white cockatiel, a goat, and Buttercup, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, all rabbits.
Dogs took wing as bees, caterpillars and ladybugs. Dogs good-naturedly assumed the identities of pirates and princesses and ship captains, children’s book characters, rock stars, pumpkins, harem girls, playing cards, superheroes, chickens, soccer players, flowers and clowns, even sharks and cool cats.
And some were themselves. Two Bernese Mountain dogs and a Newfoundland, who share their home with Pat and Lee Anne Patterson, so impressed the judges with their native attire — the brown and black mountain dogs sported bright white bibs and socks, the Newfoundland a heavy black-brown bear-like fur coat — that they were awarded a Best Looking Animals award.
As usual the judges had their work cut out for them. Perched on the flatbed of Bob Ellsworth’s vintage truck were Wayne Armstrong, Ines Chiarello, Nancy Kelso, Tom Merzon, Marcus Robbins and two four-footed consultants, Sparky and Jasper, watching as 71 entries made their way from Pine to Adams Street and emcee Rebecca Bell, a 13-year Pet Parade veteran.
Taking the place of last year’s grand prize winners, “A Gnome’s Garden,” this year’s Grand Marshals were members of the St. Helena High School cheerleading squad who threw themselves into the task with energy and free candy.
They were followed by an unexpected addition, the Towne Dandies experimental tumbling clowns featuring Geoff Ellsworth and Eric and Don Mitchell (Eric adjusted the ladder, Don held the sign), some discarded couch cushions, a turquoise ladder, an exercise ball and blue umbrella.
This demonstration of derring-do soon made way for this year’s parade hopefuls and for an hour judges made notes and conferred with colleagues as one after another entry stood where the red carpet usually is — a chalk circle replaced it this year — and bantered with Bell.
Then it was time for the deliberations. The judges retired to the Carnegie Building and in a record 45 minutes were back with their decision.
This year’s Grand Prize winners, and next year’s grand marshals, were the McBrooms’ Pumpkin Patchketeers, a lively collection of beekeepers, bees of all sizes, flowers in pots, and a wheelbarrow-riding pumpkin of impressive size and questionable provenance.
First Prize went to two groups who separately decided on a “Star Wars” theme and joined forces when they came across one another before the parade. These included Wyatt Pitts, 6 (a winner last year), Serena Pitts, 3, as a tuckered out R2D2. A yellow lab named Indiana dressed as a Jawa, and Greg Pitts as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Joining them were Eva Jewel Bowan, 6, as Darth Vadar; Emmet Bowan, 8, a clone trooper; their dog, Willow as Yoda; and friends Thomas Grimes, 7, as Boba Fett, the bounty hunter; and Jasper Henry, 6, as a Jedi Knight.
“It was so much fun,” said Greg Pitts. “It was a last-minute thing. We came back and couldn’t believe we had won, we had so much fun. There was only one ribbon for all those kids so we ordered more ribbons.”
Second place winners were Captain Cinco and his St. Helena Sweethearts. The nautical theme included Cinco, a miniature fox terrier mix gazing out from a ship’s “wheelhouse” and his “sweethearts,” Sofia Pastrana, 12, a friend, Cynthia Palmer and a Papillon named Emma. Pastrana, who came up with the idea, is a pet parade regular and occasional prize winner. “But it’s not really about the prizes,” she said. “It’s just for the fun of it.”
“Alice in Wonderland,” which walked off with third prize, was a joint effort that involved Julia Crane Capener, her 9-year-old daughter, Grace, as Alice; Lily, a Chihuahua as the Three of Hearts; Skye Hollister, 5, as the Queen of Hearts; Brooke Hollister, 10, as the Mad Hatter; Alexa Hollister, 7, as the White Rabbit; and a Lab named Casey who was turned into the Cheshire Lab by the judicious application of purple stripes. Not resting on their laurels, the group is already planning for next year’s parade.
The group prize went to “Cousins Gone Fishing,” with real-life cousins Beatrice Berlin, 4; Clementine Berlin, 5; Ewan and Peter Oliver, and “Aunt Lily” Berlin, hoisting bamboo fishing poles made by John Berlin and accompanied by fishing expedition companions, two dachshunds and a miniature King Charles Spaniel.
The talented St. Helena High School student Rayne Mason was behind the creation of the Werewolf who appeared with a dog catcher (her dad, Mark Jones), a scorpion named Roxy; the scorpion handler, her mom, Kelly Jones, and a friend, Katherine McKinzie. Mason made the costume with it’s realistic teeth, which she carved. Her creativity earned her an Unusual Pet Award. Still to come, a mechanism to motorize the snout.
The Max Award for an older or disabled pet was awarded to Roger, an 8-year-old fawn-colored greyhound with three legs rescued by Steve and Catherine Prevost of Calistoga. Roger, who’s a little clumsy and doesn’t get out much, according to Prevost, donned a little pirate hat and sword for his trek from Pine to Adams. “He was a little nervous but his costume stayed on.”