By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Dog lovers showed up in mass Saturday afternoon to participate in the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League Boo Wow Walk at Maple Ridge Golf Course.
Hundreds of animals and their owners boarded buses for the ride to the golf course hoping the clouds wouldn’t open up and pummel the area with rain like last year when the event had to be canceled due to downpours that occurred right before the event was to start.
Prizes for a variety of costume contests were offered and people went above and beyond the call of duty to create a variety of unique outfits.
“The costumes amaze me every year. I think the people plan for this all year,” said Diane Carr, president of the APL.
“The crowd was great as the competition for most creative costume was gearing up.”
Carr said the amount of money raised and the total number of participants was still being tabulated. “I actually tried to count and that was chaos,” she said.
The event started around 1 p.m. with a long walk of the golf course, but participants arrived much earlier, Carr said.
“The buses started rolling at 10:30 a.m. for vendors and volunteers,” Carr said. She said participants were on early buses as well hoping to arrive early and experience the numerous vendor tents set up near the club house.
Carr was thankful the weather held up fairly well. “It sprinkled a little bit, but no monsoon,” she said with a laugh.
Kipper, complete with a four-wheeled cart to maneuver him around the site, made the finals of the creative costume contest, but was judged just short when compared to Barkley from Geneva who got first place as a Hoover vacuum cleaner look-a-like.
Barkley’s owner Terry Racinskas of Geneva got the brainstorm after the initial use of the present came up short.
“It’s a swim suit vest somebody gave me, but he didn’t like to swim,” Racinskas said. She said he looked like a vacuum cleaner and she thought it would be a great costume.
Barkley didn’t even mind getting lifted by the handle on his back. “Just so he’s with his momma he doesn’t care,” Racinskas said.
“The golf course is fabulous. They opened up to us a couple of nights this week and will be here late tonight (Saturday),” Carr said.
Carr said she believes the event is a success because people want to help the organization, but also enjoy the public event where their canine friends are welcome.
“There is not a lot of opportunity for people to take their dogs,” she said.
Carr said the event is the APL’s largest fund raiser of the year and made $22,000 last year even though the rain dampened the activity.
“I had a lot of fun,” said 13-year-old Jana Burke of Ashtabula after completing the walk with sister Kylie, 10. Burke was dressed as Gumby.
Jacobb Semple of Ashtabula said he enjoyed walking his dog Skyla. “Just taking my dog out for a nice walk,” he said.
Emma Kopczak, 13, of Geneva said she enjoyed getting treats for her dog Zoey and helping the APL at the same time.
Kipper may have made the longest trip to the event.
Missy and Jerry Buckley of New Plymouth, five hours away, returned for the third straight year. Kipper seemed happy to have a wagon to ride on and her “parents” were excited about raising more than $550 for the APL.
“We’re already looking at plans for next year,” Carr said.