A Celebration of Pawtriotism

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce is holding the first annual Whidbey Wags Pet Parade, a pet-friendly event to celebrate Independence day.

Although they may not be able to name a single Founding Father, pets aren’t just family members, but compatriots that many Americans wish to celebrate Independence Day with.

This year, on July 3, the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce will hold the first annual Whidbey Wags Pet Parade, a pet-friendly event created with Whidbey Island’s large pet owner community in mind.

“We wanted to make an event that was patriotic in itself by including our pets into the celebration,” said Chamber Executive Director Magi Aguilar, who first came up with the idea when she noticed that many residents would ask the chamber about pet-friendly businesses and activities in Oak Harbor.

Owners can register their pets to the Independence-Day-themed costume competition, where judges will select the top three candidates for originality and creativity. Owners are welcome to wear costumes as well, although it is optional.

This year, the judges are Laura Thompson — owner of Posh Puppies and leader of Oak Harbor’s dog club — and Dr. Eric Anderson — owner of Best Friend’s Veterinary Center.

Aguilar advises pet owners to register their pets only if they are well-behaved.

The event will begin at 3:30 pm, when pets and their owners will check in at Windjammer Park to receive their parade number, pose for a professional photographer, and get a S’Wag Bag with treats, waste bags, a water bowl and coupons. The parade will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Roads won’t be closed to traffic as participants and visitors will parade through the trail that connects Windjammer park to Flintstone Park — preventing pets from walking on the hot asphalt, as Aguilar explained, while also enjoying the view of Puget Sound.

At Flintstone Park, there will be a fair with cooling pools for dogs, a hydration station for pets and humans, sponsors’ and vendors’ booths, and games.

“There’s just so many creative things that our community has come together to provide for this first annual event, but it’s been really nice to see our community show how much they love their animals,” Aguilar said, acknowledging partners and sponsors.

The entry fee is $25 for each pet, which will cover event costs and support the chamber’s Independence Day fireworks show at 10 p.m. Sponsors and partners are not being charged, according to Aguilar.

“We really just wanted to kick it off the ground,” she said. She said the chamber hopes to get sponsors in the years to come to make the event free to all.

“There’s a huge, huge community here that adores these pets and treats them like family members,” said Thompson, encouraging pet owners to attend the event even if they don’t intend to compete in the parade. “We can all meet people, make lifelong friends and play date buddies … And enjoy a fun day.”

For more information, visit Oak Harbor’s Chamber of Commerce website.

Shelby Montoya grooms Rocky at Posh Puppies. (Photo provided)

Shelby Montoya grooms Rocky at Posh Puppies. (Photo provided)