Amy Roberts: A not so traditional tradition |

Amy Roberts: A not so traditional tradition

Park City is a town of traditions. True, our traditions aren’t especially, well, traditional. After all, here Santa doesn’t come down the chimney. Instead, he comes down a chairlift.

On top of that, we have Clown Day, the Sundance Film Festival, 4th of July and Miner’s Day events, bike races, nonprofit galas, and a host of other annual happenings that keep our calendars full.

But one of my favorite untraditional traditions happens on Main Street this Friday. The annual Howl-O-Ween dog parade. Where hundreds of pooches stand around on the street wondering how much trouble they’d get in if they bit their owner for dressing them up like Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz" or a drunk hobo.

I’ve taken my dogs up to Main Street for Halloween every year I’ve lived here, and I’ve always been somewhat amazed they don’t eat me in my sleep later that night. Like the other hundreds of dogs whose owners take them to this annual event, they amuse me and tolerate the elaborate costumes — even when they can’t walk or pee in them.

I suppose it’s a bit of a trade-off for getting to be a dog in Park City. After all, they spend their lives hiking, running in the mountains, playing in the snow, going camping, getting treats at the bank and sometimes even going to work with their owners. The least they can do is humor us on October 31st by donning a costume designed to embarrass them.

This event has grown each year I’ve lived here. When it officially started a decade or so ago, there was just a scattering of dogs, looking a little bored as they stood around on Main Street. Now, the whole street is closed, hundreds of dogs (and their people) show up, the news comes to cover the story and the event has even been written up in Travel + Leisure magazine, citing the dog parade as why Park City is a great place to celebrate Halloween.

The costumes have evolved a great deal too. Ten or so years ago, most of the dogs just had a bandana tied around their necks. Perhaps a fancy leash and collar if the owner was particularly ambitious. But now you’ll find Great Danes dressed as ballerinas, toy poodles dressed like sumo wrestlers, dogs who have been spray painted, people who dress in theme with their pooch (cops and prisoners, cheerleaders and football players, etcetera) and canines with special haircuts and expensive grooming sessions to perfect their ensemble.

While a lot of owners go all out and create their own handmade costumes, I’m definitely a working dog mom and as a result, Stanley and Boston will be in store-bought get-ups.

Boston, who I sometimes think is part deer, has always been a pumpkin. There are not many XXXL options at the local pet store. But this year, I did get lucky and found something new to fit him. He’ll be a triple-XL taco. Stanley, my Dalmatian, has apparently gained a few pounds since last year. When I put him in his firefighter costume last week for a test run, he looked like a stripper. It was so tight, the Velcro just popped with each attempt to stuff him into it. Rather than put him on a diet, he got a new costume too. He’s going to be an alligator.

Though I have my suspicions neither dog is actually excited to wear his new costume, I am excited to once again participate in what has now become one of Park City’s best and most fun annual traditions.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.

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