Everything old was new again at the 20th annual pet parade Saturday.
Replacing the irrepressible Rebecca Bell and a tradition of 15 years was the equally irrepressible St. Helena Fire Chief John Sorensen as master of ceremonies with his fire department sidekick, Capt. Brian Streblow.
Together they directed the wolves, princesses, hula dancers, clowns, brides, surfer dudes, pirates, marine life, angels, devils, oreo cows, mariachi musicians, cats, storybook characters, Girl Scouts, tents, sleeping bags, spiders and skeletons, a headless horseman and an impatient hospital patient — as well as their humans — to the judges’ stand, a vintage Chevy farm truck newly painted and updated by owner Bob Ellsworth.
Veteran judges Tom Merzon and Ines Chiarello and newcomers Cathy Buck, John Helfrick and Marcia Roman, notes in hand, kept tabs on the more than 45 entries.
Sorensen was almost undone by one of the contestants, not the fierce wolf as tall as a St. Helena teenager but its companion, a handsome reptile parading as itself, a blue-tailed skink.
Half an hour after the last contestant stepped up to the orange X, and the last canine checked out the ghostly fragrances of doggy treats past, the judges were back with their decisions.
Grand Prize went to “Alice in Animal Land,” a family endeavor that included Napa teacher Tom MacIntyre as the Mad Hatter, 13-year-old Anna MacIntyre as Alice carrying Bunny as the White Rabbit, brother Dylan MacIntyre as either Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum, Cody the black Lab as the Ace of Hearts, and Linda MacIntyre as the Red Queen. The family cat, Livi, spent the long walk from Pine to Adams Street trying hard to produce a Cheshire Cat smile.
The entry won an impressive ribbon, a $50 gift certificate from Fideaux and the right to lead next year’s parade as grand marshals.
Nailing down first prize was the “S.S. Emily,” a lobster boat with a 3-year-old shih tzu named Emily sporting a bright red lobster costume, a detail that didn’t escape Sorensen, a chef noted for lobster boil. The “lobster”‘ was accompanied by “lobstermen,” Clare-Elyse Vondra, nearly 9, and a school chum, Andreae Tobon. “It was an enormous surprise,” said Lisa O’Connor Vondra. “Clare-Elyse was just beside herself.” But the youngster didn’t forget Emily. The first stop was Fideaux where part of the $30 gift certificate went for a squeaky toy.
The Henkel family, most of them experienced pet paraders, earned second prize for their “Skelladoodles” theme — 8-year-old Maisy, a standard poodle, was half skeleton, half poodle, as were Rain Henkel, 3, who came up with the idea, and River Henkel, 5. One-year-olds Sky and Scarlet were pulled in a wagon by mom, Kellie Henkel. The boys are already scheming for the next year, she said.
Lola, a blue and gold macaw put on a show for everyone except the judges, but that didn’t stop her fellow pirates, Tracee Oles Beebe, Kathy Oles, and tiny canines Tazo and Fiona from stealing away with third prize.
The clank of water bottles announced the arrival 42 Girl Scouts, 10 adults, and nine canines doing what they do best, “Going Camping.” The girls represented six troops in the Upper Valley Service Unit which includes St. Helena, Calistoga and Angwin. Inventive canines wore backpacks and life jackets and tents. One sported an impressive array of badges. They were awarded the Group Prize and a $50 gift certificate from Pennyweight.
Judy Pohlers’ 15-year-old rescue dog Annie, arrayed as a black widow spider, earned the Yates family’s Max Award for an old or disabled pet. The good-natured Welsh Springer Spaniel didn’t have to wait long to sample some of the goodies in the shopping bag donated by Fideaux.
But it was a tiny black French bulldog named Cozzy who buzzed off with the Judges Choice Award and prizes from Advanced Lighting Systems for portraying a bee in the “Bee and the Beekeeper” entry with a human friend named Ritzie. Cozzy captivated one and all by doing a trick not usually associated with bees — sitting.