Calling all people with pooches for Mardi Growl
KNOXVILLE -– The City of Knoxville and Friends of Young-Williams Animal Center invite all Knoxville-area pet owners, animal lovers and furry friends to celebrate at the Fifth Annual Mardi Growl Parade and Festival on Saturday, March 3. The event features a pet-friendly parade at 11 a.m. and a festival in Market Square from noon-2 p.m.
This year's Grand Marshal of the Mardi Growl parade is City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, who will be accompanied by her grandchildren and her "granddog," Roscoe.
Early registration for the parade is $15 and ends Friday, Feb. 24. On-site registration is $20. The annual Mardi Growl event benefits Young-Williams Animal Center, and all proceeds go to the center to help homeless animals in the Knoxville-area community. All Knoxvillians are invited to come downtown to watch the parade and join in the festivities on Market Square.
In August 2011, Dog Fancy Magazine named Knoxville the most dog friendly city in the Southeast, earning it the title of "DogTown USA" for the southeast United States. Among the reasons that Knoxville was selected as a dog-friendly city were the community's off-leash dog parks, dog-friendly restaurant patios and pet-friendly events like the popular Mardi Growl celebration.
"The annual Mardi Growl event has become a flagship celebration for pets in our community," said Mayor Rogero. "The parade attracts hundreds of participants, both human and canine, as well as hundreds of spectators along the streets of downtown Knoxville. The festivities in Market Square feature pet-friendly vendors, helpful information and resources for pet owners and – most importantly – fun and socializing among the pets and people alike. It's a great way to raise awareness for Young-Williams Animal Center as well as the Most Pet Friendly Community efforts in Knoxville."
The fifth annual costume parade for dogs and their owners is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3. The parade begins at the PetSafe Downtown Dog Park located at the corner of Summit Hill Drive and Central Avenue in downtown Knoxville. On-site registration begins at 9 a.m.
Parade prizes will be awarded to dogs in categories including Best Costume, Best Vol Spirit, Pet/Owner Look Alike, Most Congenial and Best Naked Dog. This year, a new award will be given to the Best Dawg Pack, recognizing the company or organization with the most participants in the parade.
Following the parade, the pet-friendly Mardi Growl Festival on Market Square will take place from noon-2 p.m. Festivities will include services like $10 microchips and $10 rabies vaccinations; pet-related product vendors; animal welfare and rescue group booths; face painting and balloon animals; and more. Many of Market Square's restaurants feature pet-friendly patios.
Pet owners are reminded to please pick up after their pets during the event. Waste stations will be available at the start of the parade and at the festival in Market Square, and each walker will be provided with waste disposal materials at the registration desk. It is each owner's responsibility to clean up his or her pet's waste to keep downtown Knoxville clean and beautiful for all.
Knoxville's Mardi Growl is presented by the City of Knoxville and Friends of Young-Williams Animal Center, and event sponsors include PetSafe; Hill's Pet Nutrition; Merial's HeartGuard Plus and FrontLine Plus; WBIR-TV; B97.5; Knoxville News Sentinel; PETCO Animal Supplies/PETCO Foundation; 24PetWatch/Petango Store; Enrichment Federal Credit Union; and Erie Insurance.
The first 1,000 Mardi Growl registrants will receive a doggie goodie bag. Community members also can register as a "Virtual Walker," which allows pet owners to walk in the parade wearing a photo button in recognition of their pet, who can stay at home and sleep. Pet owners who would like to remember a deceased pet and support Young-Williams can have their pet's name added on the "Rainbow Bridge" for $10. The memorial bridge will be located in Market Square on the day of the event.
For more information about Mardi Growl, please visit www.young-williams.org or www.cityofknoxville.org/mardigrowl or call 865-215-6360.
Published February 20, 2012