There were no shortages of elaborate costumes, doggie treats and proud pups at the annual Krewe des Chiens parade on Saturday in downtown Lafayette.
From family pets and service dogs to adoptable pups and rescue pets, more than 200 animals paraded in front of hundreds of area residents lining Lafayette and Vermilion streets. The parade had a larger purpose: raising money for six shelters, including Animal Rescue Foundation, and to care for retired police dogs.
“There has been a great turnout,” said Cheri Trowbridge, parade captain. “It’s very family oriented, and the police always love working it.”
Trowbridge said the turnout this year has been the biggest the krewe has seen yet, noting that the weather on Saturday with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures helped to draw the large crowds.
Matching tutus, “Frozen” characters (from the popular Disney film) and Wolfgang “Pups” marched along the route, tossing beads, candy and for canine viewers, doggie treats.
Most of the owners and their dogs dressed in accordance with this year’s theme, “Super Pups Parade Again!”
The krewe holds three main fundraisers: the dog parade; a Mardi Gras ball, which took place on Jan. 30; and a raffle to choose the canine royalty. However, shirt sales and donations at the end of the parade are also contributed.
Since 1998, the krewe has raised more than $300,000 — $50,000 from last year alone. Owners who want to walk their dogs in the parade must either pay a $25 pre-registration fee or a $35 registration fee on the day of the parade.
The parade featured a king, queen, duke and duchess, all chosen from a raffle, with raffle tickets each costing $25.
Kimberly Coe, a Krewe des Chiens veteran who has participated in the festivities for the past decade, considered the parade the place to be on the Saturday before Mardi Gras.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” she said. “It’s a challenge to try to throw things and walk a dog at the same time, but seeing all the kids get excited — the dogs love it. They just love it.”
Coe walked alongside her old English sheep dog, Lillie.
Winners of the “best non themed costumes,” Brandy LeJeune and her crew of six, including Gracie, a golden retriever therapy dog, dressed up as memorable characters from the movie “Beetlejuice.”
Macie Richard, one of the hundreds of people lining the parade route, said the pet parade is a great addition to Mardi Gras festivities in Lafayette and a kid-friendly favorite.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is probably my kids’ favorite parade,” she said. “We are big dog people, so we always bring our two rescue dogs with us and dress them up.”
The Animal Rescue Foundation brought 15 dogs ready for adoption to this year’s parade.
“It’s all about exposure — just getting the dogs out and letting people know what we do as far as fostering, adoption, what it takes,” said David Guilbeau with the foundation.