Mutts will strut at Absecon Fair

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A walking Chia Pet is just one of the many ways a proud pet owner can dress up the family’s four-legged member for the Absecon Business and Commercial Development Corporation’s inaugural Pet Parade on Saturday, Sept. 15. ABSECON – The city will be going to the dogs, literally, during the inaugural running of the Absecon Business & Commercial Development's Downtown Fair's Pet Parade on Saturday, Sept. 15.

The parade will feature costumed-dressed dogs in three classes: under 25 pounds, over 25 pounds and a group of three or less.

The parading pooches can be dressed as creatively as possible as they wow Downtown Fair crowds and compete for prizes, organizers say.

“The sky is the limit,” said spokesperson Vicki Phillips, owner of the Animal House Grooming and Pet Supplies, one of the event sponsors. “Everybody should be as creative as possible.”

Phillips said Absecon First Lady JoAnn Elco mentioned the idea of having a pet parade to Phillips.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” Phillips said. “There is really nothing else like it in South Jersey.”

Phillips, who was born in Culpepper, Va., said there are many activities for dog owners and their pets to enjoy in other states.

“But there’s really not that much in South Jersey,” she said. “There is a bar in Asbury Park that has a “Yappy Hour” where pet owners can bring their pets.”

Phillips hopes the parade will start a trend.

“I don’t think there are enough events around here that let pet owners get involved with their pets,” she said. “People love their pets and want to take them to functions and to do something fun with them.”

Though Phillips is a fan of all pets, the Downtown Fair Pet Parade is focusing on dogs.

“They are easier to walk,” she said. “You can’t really put a cat on a leash.”

Then Phillips thought for a moment.

 “However, we won’t discriminate if someone shows up with a ferret or a pot belly pig,” she said with a giggle.

Phillips said organizers are hoping a field of 50 canines show up to strut their stuff and wag their tails.

“It just doesn’t have to be Absecon residents,” she said. “The more the merrier. They can come from all over.”

Phillips said the dogs may be pulled along in a wagon, a stroller or any non-motorized cart.

“I would suggest that everybody Google the topic pet costumes and see what’s out there,” she said. “There’s so much from homemade to bought costumes.”

Each winner will receive a grooming certificate from the Animal House, she said. Other prizes are a $25 gift certificate from Absecon Veterinary Hospital and a free photo shoot from Absecon Artistic Photography.

The Pet Parade registration will begin at 10 a.m. on New Jersey Avenue and in front of the Absecon Gardens project, Phillips said. The parade will begin at 10:45 a.m. and travel down New Jersey Avenue to the Absecon Historical Society and back.

“That way everybody gets two chances to look at the dogs and their costumes,” Phillips said. “We should be all wrapped up by 11:30 a.m.”

Though registration is free, entrants are asked to donate pet food to the Kibble Cupboard, Atlantic County’s Pet Food Bank, Phillips said.

“There are many people who are deciding to get rid of their pets because they no longer can afford to feed them,” Phillips said. “This helps out.”

People may register their entries into the Pet Parade at the Animal House, 229 White Horse Pike, Absecon; or by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mailing a form to Pet Parade, 40 W. Nevada Ave., Absecon.

The Absecon Business and Commercial Development Corporation's Downtown Fair's Pet Parade is sponsored by Absecon Veterinarian Hospital, Animal House Grooming and Pet Supplies, Artistic Photography Studio and Mayor Pete Elco and his wife, JoAnn.

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