KANAB – Spectators joined in with around 230 greyhound owners and their dogs on Saturday for a greyhound parade and canine carnival, part of the festivities at Kanab’s annual Greyhound Gathering.
“The people of Kanab came out to celebrate greyhounds with us,” said Claudia Presto, founder of the Greyhound Gang, the sponsoring organization for the Greyhound Gathering. Presto served as master of ceremonies for the greyhound parade and other festivities throughout the day.
Just before 10 a.m., Center Street in downtown Kanab was closed to traffic to make way for hundreds of hounds – most of which were dressed in costumes for the parade.
Before the parade began, Kort Stirland, local pharmacist and conductor of the Kanab-based Symphony of the Canyons, donned an Elvis Presley costume and warmed up the crowd with his rendition of “Hound Dog.” Then it was the greyhounds’ turn to take the makeshift stage, which was a large flatbed trailer converted for the occasion with a ramp for the dogs and owners to climb.
One at a time, greyhound owners and their pets ascended the ramp to display their costumes to the crowd while Presto introduced them.
Many owners wore costumes to match their pets. There was a group of Star Wars greyhounds, complete with Darth Vader, Princess Leia and two greyhounds dressed as Imperial Walkers. Gusto said their owner, who was dressed as a storm trooper, regularly takes her costumed Star Wars hounds to Comic-Con events.
Among the many other participating owners and pets, a man from Las Vegas paraded his female greyhound, dressed as a Vegas showgirl, onto the stage. A $1 bill was visible as it fluttered from the waistband of the dog’s red-sequined miniskirt, and the owner said he was accepting donations to benefit the greyhound organization; donors could tuck their money into the dog’s waistband, he said.
Janis Mock-Jones, of Sedona, Arizona, had her four greyhounds – Ebony Ann, Parker, Maggie Mae and Sidney – accoutered with oxen horns and hitched to a dog-sized pioneer wagon, while greyhound Tanner brought up the rear dressed as a saddle horse. Mock-Jones and her husband have been attending the yearly Greyhound Gathering since 2009.
“Once we got greyhounds, we said, ‘Let’s go to Kanab,’” she said.
Among the many other parading pups was a greyhound dressed as Minnie Mouse, a group of Rastafarian greyhounds, a greyhound dressed as a lion and another dressed as a saber-toothed tiger, a group of greyhounds in Crayola crayon costumes, and even a greyhound dog dressed as a Greyhound bus, complete with canine passengers peeking out through the windows. Captain America and Wonder Woman also made an appearance – in dog form, of course.
“It’s good to know Captain America is in town, should we need him,” Presto said, getting a laugh from the crowd.
Presto announced that some in attendance had been to every Greyhound Gathering since the inaugural event took place 12 years ago. For others, like Chuck DeGraffenreid, from Orange County, California, this year’s event was a first.
“It’s wonderful!” DeGraffenreid, who brought three greyhounds to the event, said. “It will not be the last.”
The costume parade concluded with a group “roo” led by Presto. The humans in the crowd began howling like greyhounds – and soon many of the canines joined in.
While fun was the focus of the day, there were also serious thoughts on the minds of crowd members. Many of the greyhounds in attendance were rescued dogs – some abused or abandoned after their careers as racing dogs came to an end.
“It’s sad,” Kanab resident Dianne Hope said. Seeing all the rescued greyhounds made her want to adopt one herself, she said.
“I would do it,” Hope said. “I mean, the poor little things. I would adopt one.”
After the parade, the annual Canine Carnival took place in the schoolyard at Kanab Elementary. There were various doggy booths, including “Dunkin’ for Dogs,” where the hounds could dive for treats in wading pools filled with water; the “Paw-casso” booth, where dogs could create their own paintings; “Paw-ticures,” where the animals could get their claws clipped or painted; and even a doggy fortuneteller named “Professor Greytsight,” who peered into the dogs’ futures and gave their owners insight and pieces of advice. Many dogs and owners, tired from the day’s events, simply rested on blankets and under canopies on the school grounds.
“A great – g-r-e-y-t – time was had by all,” Presto said.
The Greyhound Gathering concludes on Sunday. The “Blur of Fur” event, which the public is invited to attend, will be held at Kanab Elementary School, 41 W. 100 North, from 9-11 a.m. Participating greyhounds will revisit their racing days by getting off the leash and taking a run through the grass. Their times will be clocked by a radar gun, courtesy of the Kanab Police Department, and prizes will be awarded. Other concluding events on Sunday are for registered participants only.
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