When October arrives in Park City, Main Street gears up for the various Halloween-flavored festivities that include the annual "Thriller" snow dance and trick or treating.

Another tradition is the Howl-O-ween Dog Parade that runs on the Main Street stretch from the Egyptian Theatre to 9th Street.

This year's parade, hosted by Friends of Animals Utah, a nonprofit organization committed to improving homeless animals' lives by placing them into loving and permanent homes, will take place Wednesday, Oct. 31, and begin at 5 p.m. Participants should meet at the Egyptian Theatre between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Lisa Allison, the new executive director for Friends of Animals Utah, said the parade is part of the unique Park City flavor.

"We live in a dog town and our not only do the locals love their dogs, they love to do things with them on special occasions, and Halloween falls into that category," said Allison, who became executive director last August. "There are even a lot of people who join the parade who don't have pets. I think, initially, the parade was a way to have people show off their dogs and their costumes, but like anything else, it morphed into something different, but still fun."

This year, the parade will feature a costume contest at the Town Lift Plaza after the parade ends.

"This is something we haven't done before, and it seemed like fun," Allison said.

While participation in the parade is free, there is a $10 fee to register for the costume contest.


"The money will benefit Friends of Animals Utah and will help with our various programs," said Allison, who has three cats and two dogs a giant schnauzer and a wirehaired pointer all of which are rescued animals.

Pet owners can register online at www.foautah.org or on the day of the parade.

"We will hand out some nice prizes because we know we have a creative town, judging from years past," Allison said. "We'll have awards for best small dog, best large dog, best dog and family combination, and best dog with child combination, things like that.

"PetCo had generously donated a lot of gifts from dog toys to treats and coats," she said. "We will have prizes for the owners, as well."

Allison, who has been part of the Friends of Animals Utah family for two years, said she has seen some wonderfully extravagant costumes at past parades.

"One of the funniest costumes last year was a dog dressed like a Chia Pet," she said. "This little dog had orange legs and a green bushy coat and it was fabulous.

"I'm someone who can't even draw a stick figure, so the costume was amazing," she said.

Another couple was dressed up as bumblebees and they had a black dog that was also dressed as a bumblebee

"These are not just slap-dash, throw-a-T-shirt-on-your-pet-and walk," Allison said. "No. These costumes were made by people who began thinking about what to wear after the parade finished last year. I'm talking about people who started planning last year, November 1st."

She is interested to see what types of ideas are in store for this parade.

"Every year there is always some sort of a running theme," Allison said. "I'm sure this year many people will tie their costumes into the political races and elections coming up."

Allison said she is also amazed by some of the owners' costumes.

"I grew up in the East where it was cold and we always had to worry about what the costume looked like with a coat on," she said with a laugh. "Here, even though it gets chilly, nobody seems to care or they are very creative."

The only problem she sees concerning the Wednesday event is that Halloween should always be on a weekend.

"I remember when I was a kid that it always stunk when it was on a weekday and we would have to go to school the next day," she said. "And I know people have to go to work, too."

Still, Allision said she is looking forward to the event.

"We love to be out in the center of the community with events like this and are very grateful for the level of community support we enjoy," she said. 

The Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade will take place on Main Street, between the Egyptian Theatre and 9th Street on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 5 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The event will be followed by a costume contest and party at the Town Lift Plaza. The parade and party are free and open to the public. The costume contest costs $10 to register. For more information, visit www.foautah.org.