Thomas Raimo of Glens Falls carefully scanned the crowd that milled in front of the Sloppy Kisses dog boutique Sunday morning, looking for competition. The 10-year-old, dressed in full pharaoh regalia, held a cobra-shaped staff in one hand, and in the other, a leash attached to a Pomeranian dressed as a mummy.
“I saw a Rottweiler that had a little jockey on his back. That was funny,” he confided. “And my cousin might be competition. She’s a hippie and her dog’s a hippie too.”
Packing the sidewalk were dogs of all sizes, every one of them dressed in disguise. Among the jumping, yipping, leg-lifting crowd was a tiny rubber duck, an enormous skunk, an angel, a vampire, a lion and a ballerina. Many had owners who were dressed to match.
The crew trotted down Broadway in their Halloween finery as part of the Howl-O-Ween Costume Parade sponsored by Sloppy Kisses, and later competed in a costume contest at The Inn at Saratoga.
The seventh-annual event brought out a record 93 registrants, who sniffed excitedly at the pet-friendly goodie bags their owners were given at check-in.
Marcy Barss’ fluffy little papillons, Tory and Adam, were dressed as pumpkins for the parade. They barked at every costumed character that went by.
“I think they’re going to get the prize for being the noisiest,” said Barss, of Saratoga Springs.
Sitting next to her on a bench in the sun was Linda McConell of Saratoga Springs, who sported a purple witch hat and a festive Halloween sweater vest. She was trying, in vain, to get a green hood to stay on her squirmy schnauzer’s head so the dog would look like a frog.
“She should have been a devil, but that’s OK,” McConell said with a laugh.
Kiwi the cockapoo wasn’t all that thrilled to be in costume either, but there she was all dressed up, looking like a sheepish shrub. Her owner, Nora Stevens of Colonie, had worked for three days to glue plastic greenery to an orange doggy outfit, to transform Kiwi into a Chia Pet.
“This is a big thing for her to be wearing this,” Stevens said. “She did not want it on, but she’s doing good.”
Although there were a number of dogs that didn’t seem to share their owners’ enthusiasm for the whole dress-up thing, Pumpernickel, a 1-year-old Yorkshire terrier prancing around in bumblebee garb, was not one of them.
“She’s so excited and she loves her costume. She’s been sleeping with it for a week,” said her owner, Janelle Tavormina of Saratoga Springs.
Her 5-pound dog made a convincing bee when standing near Mandee Nann’s hulking brown Newfoundland, Bailey, who was dressed as a New York Giants football player.
“Bailey plays cheerleader and sleeper too. She’s not very aggressive, so she can’t get out there and play. She’s all for show,” said Nann, of Mechanicville, who was dressed in matching Giants attire.
Emma Hoffer, an 8-year-old from Saratoga Springs, decided to dress her shepherd-husky mix, Rocky, as Super Dog. When asked why she decided on that costume, she replied matter-of-factly: “Because he’s not a girl and he can’t wear a tutu.”
After the parade along Broadway, the dogs and their owners stopped at The Inn at Saratoga for Yappy Hour, an outdoor gathering that included food and drinks for humans and a costume contest for the canines.
The award for the cutest dog went to Jilly Bean, a tiny white Maltese dressed as a very enthusiastic bridal bouquet, led around on a leash by bride-for-the-day Eliza Ashe, 10, of Gloversville.
A bulldog named Gramps, who dressed up as a canine presidential candidate, won the award for the most original costume.
And the final award, for the best duo, didn’t go to a duo at all, but to a family of four dressed in Superman costumes, and their four tiny counterparts — superhero Chihuahuas who looked more terrified than brave.
Proceeds from the Howl-O-Ween event will be donated to the Saratoga County Animal Shelter.