By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday afternoon, Gramercy Park West was transformed from the quiet, narrow street it normally is into to a bustling runway for the neighborhood’s pooch population.
Around 50 people showed up for the event, the annual Canine Comedy Parade run by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates. Each year, dog owners are encouraged to bring their furry friends in costume (or not) and for a $5 entry fee, have them march down a hydrant-lined red carpet to compete for prizes and certificates. It’s not a talent show or a competition that focuses on training or pedigrees. Dogs who get cold paws and shy away from strutting down the carpet will still get a certificate and treats. Really, it’s just an excuse for neighbors to get together, GNA members have said. One member, Jane Emory, recalled how when the event started, at least 15 years ago, it was an event for children. These days, the parade attracts mostly adult owners.
It isn’t the most popular of the GNA’s various events; that would be the annual art show at the National Arts Club, which this year drew over 400 people on opening night. But, noted GNA President Alan Krevis, “It’s the one everyone talks about.” Many new members often discover the GNA through the Canine Comedy Parade, whether they’re participating or just walking by in time to see one of the contestants win an award like “most likely to eat this certificate.”
According to Krevis, the award titles are usually made up by judges moments before being called out. This year, titles included “most likely to get blown away by a big gust of wind” and “most likely to work out at the same gym as my owner.” The latter went to a bulldog named Armando, owned by Marco Shur, and the former went to tiny pooch Princeton, owned by Ilana Weissberg.
This year, the event’s winner of the grand prize (a $50 gift certificate to Petco) was Alain, a rescue mini-poodle owned by Union Square resident Sarita Kellman. Alain, a male dog, may have been chosen for his being such a good sport after being decked out in an outfit made out of roses and having a judge repeatedly mispronounced his name as “Elaine.” It’s apparently pronounced “Ah-lon.”
Kellman, who made Alain’s outfit, said, “I design jewelry, so I figured why not design him a little costume? He’s lucky he’s a boy or he would have been even more dressed up.”
Kellman said Alain came from Paterson, New Jersey. She found him after looking at a site seeking owners for rescue dogs. She had intended to get a female toy poodle but when she saw the photo of the dog that would become hers, “It was love at first sight.” She added of the now 14-month-old, “He’s a wonderful dog. He’s mellow and he’s active, which is so unusual.”
Along with Alain, three other dogs won runner-up prizes of $25 gift certificates. One went to Ella, a maltese dressed up like a turtle and owned by Dorie Solomon. The other two, Clove and Sage, known as “The Spice Dogs,” and owned by Mary Parker, won a collective runner-up prize.
Parker, a longtime Gramercy Park resident, said she would like to see more events like the Canine Comedy Parade, and said there used to be more, but these days, there’s too much resistance to them. “There are too many wealthy people who don’t want to be with their neighbors,” she sniffed.
Along with the contest, the event also featured exhibitors from local dog-related businesses and organizations. This year’s exhibitors were Wiggly Pups dog daycare center, Animal Care & Control, Bideawee, Cauz for Pawz, Graceful Canine Dog Training, a dog caricature artist from Lorelei Arts and doggie knitwear company Hope’s Hand Knits.