'Paws in the Park' no longer just for the dogs

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Apr. 28, 2011
Some dogs just like to dress up at Paws in the Park. Photo courtesy of the South Windsor Jaycees. - Contributed Photo

The South Windsor Jaycees will host the sixth annual Paws in the Park on Saturday, May 14, at the Rotary Pavilion in Nevers Road Park in South Windsor. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a dog walk, led by radio personality Wendy Steele and her dog. The event is free and open to the public, and dogs on a leash are welcome. The rain date is May 15.

According to event chairman Paul Petrillo, this year’s Paws in the Park will feature even more vendors than in the past, which will appeal to both dog owners and non-dog owners alike. In addition, several pet rescue organizations and animal shelters will host booths, with animals available for adoption. “We’re making this an event for people who have dogs and who want to have dogs,” explained Petrillo.

With more than 40 vendors, including food vendors, the Jaycees expect to raise more than $3,000, which will be donated to the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation and the South Windsor Bark Park. The majority of funds come from vendor fees, with 25 percent coming from the dog contest participants, the auctions and general donations received the day of Paws in the Park.

The VCA Animal Hospital, with locations in South Windsor and Vernon, is once again the presenting sponsor. “We look forward to it every year as a great, fun event,” said hospital manager Christine Fournier. In addition to providing information on protecting pets during emergencies, VCA will offer free pet pedicures and gift certificates for a free first exam. There will also be water and cookies for the pets. “It’s a great event, even for non-pet owners,” added Fournier, noting the tea cup auction and multiple vendors.

Special events are scheduled throughout the day, including multiple dog contests every half hour, beginning with Best Costume at 11:10 a.m. and ending with Best Musical Sit at 1:35 p.m. A free-will donation is suggested for contest participants. The top three contestants in each category will receive a prize, donated by Petco.

Gretchen Fisher of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation will perform a demonstration at 10:30 a.m. The organization will also have a few dogs currently in the puppy-raising program to meet at the Fidelco booth. “It’s a great public awareness event,” said Kris Fletcher, development associate for Fidelco. “We’re very grateful to the South Windsor Jaycees for this opportunity,” added Fletcher, explaining that Fidelco combines two loves for many people: the love of dogs and the love of helping visually-impaired people.

“We really want to make this a family event that involves dogs, not just a dog event,” added Petrillo. For many, Paws in the Park is a perfect opportunity to meet television personalities Mark Dixon, Ryan Hanrahan and Teresa LaBarbera. There will also be games and crafts for children, including a moon bounce, and live music. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nature’s Variety is sponsoring free children’s caricatures.

For more information about Paws in the Park and the detailed schedule, visit the Parks and Recreation website at recreation.southwindsor.org and click on Paws in the Park. Applications for vendors and sponsors are available on the Jaycees website at swjaycees.org.

The South Windsor Jaycees is an open organization for young adults interested in providing leadership for the community, as well as meeting others in the community. The Jaycees also organize the Wapping Fair and various fundraisers throughout the year to support other community organizations, such as the food bank. The South Windsor Jaycees meet on the first Tuesday of the month beginning at 7 p.m. at the South Windsor Community Center. For more information, visit the Jaycees website at swjaycees.org.

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