Last Saturday started out cold and windy but it warmed up quickly with the arrival of hundreds of excited dogs, and the happy folks who cherish them, at Riverfront Park.
There were there to celebrate the 10th annual Mystic Krewe of Salty Barkers Mardi Gras Barkus Parade. Registered participants were from 27 states and two foreign countries.
With the park completely filled with 40 local arts, crafts, and food vendors, visitors were treated to exceptional live music by the local band, Hot Mess, and the fun kept building. The parade began at 1 p.m. and the six-block route was packed with crowds significantly larger than last year.
The new Krewe float, SS Salty Dog, led the parade followed by the Lofty Pursuits marching band, Forgotten Coast Parrot Heads, Fishy Fashion Show characters, the Panhandle Players Second Line, the Fishlips jazz band, and other unique participants. Dozens of theme-decorated golf carts, and more than 200 of dogs and their people registered to march in the parade to celebrate Surf Dogs USA.
There was a special place in the parade for Baby and Tucker, the canine Queen and King of the event, both available for adoption at the Franklin County Humane Society. They were admired by the crowd as they traveled on a brand new boat provided by Wefings Marine.
Grand Marshals Barbara and Phillip Gillaspy, volunteers who regularly transport animals from the local shelter to other cities where they have a better chance to be adopted, were honored by the Krewe. They threw beads from the bed of Will Rosenbaum’s restored antique pick-up truck.
A traditional highlight of the Riverfront Park event was the appearance of the Florida Wild Mammal Association’s Doofie the pelican, who was joined by a sweet-smelling skunk named Penelope.
The Humane Society brought several adult dogs and two litters of wiggly puppies to adopt, and many were, but there are still ample pups, including the King and Queen to choose from at the animal shelter. One lucky cat scored a new home as well.
Registration fees, a raffle for a beautiful, handmade quilt, a silent auction, sales of Krewe merchandise, and donations, all helped raise funds which will be donated to the Franklin County Humane Society and the Florida Wild Mammal Association to help them continue their compassionate efforts on behalf of Franklin County animals. Exact amounts of the donations will be announced very soon.
The Krewe is grateful for the generous donations from local sponsors and the efforts of volunteers who made the event successful and who help the parade and festival to grow.