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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Rutherford's First Howl-O-Ween Dog Pawrade

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

By Ava Vaccarella

Photo Credits: Jennifer Ersalesi, Ava Vaccarella, and Rutherford Recreation Department


This weekend saw numerous town-wide holiday celebrations to mark the annual festivities found on Halloween, which is this Tuesday. The first Howl-o-ween Dog Pawrade—as it was cleverly named—was one of the activities planned to mark the occasion.

While exclusively for town residents, the rules for participating in the joy-filled event were overall quite lax and encouraged pet owners to bring on the spooky spirit! The requirements to be in the parade were as follows: register as a participant before the day of the parade, use a leash, accompany your dog with someone who is 18 or older, and finally, provide proof of a borough license.

Once participants were registered and ready to go for Saturday, they arrived in order to begin the procession promptly at one p.m. Starting the walk at Rutherford High School on Elliot Place, dogs, and their owners could be seen in a variation of costumes, walking all the way down to East Passaic in order to be able to conclude at Lincoln Park so as to begin a new set of festivities for the rest of the weekend. Here, dogs, and families of the dogs were welcomed on stage and thanked for their involvement in the parade. At the park some town Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson, Councilman Ray Guzman, Council President Stephanie McGowan, Councilwoman Susan Quatrone, Councilwoman Christie Del-Rey Cone, and Mayor Frank Nunziato were in attendance, as well as Maria Schlemm. Schlemm is the founder of Walking With Schlemm, a dog walking service based in Rutherford; the organization was a proud sponsor of the event, providing gift baskets and trophies for winners. Schlemm was also thanked for her participation and organizing of the parade while on stage, as well as for her ongoing love for pets.


Reverend Justin J. Warner, Interim Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, was there and blessed some of the dog participants.

Once they made their way into the park, the dogs were told to hold up their numbers given to them upon registering for the event and they walked around the park once more for judges to make decisions on who they believed should be given trophies for their (truly stellar) Halloween costume efforts. While awards were promised to not all of the contestants, a multitude of the participating families were given the honors. There were roughly 10 recipients of the trophies and there was a costume for everyone to enjoy, with dogs dressed in accordance with current pop culture references, different foods, and other creative concepts.

Some of the most favored costumes of the day included a Chihuahua posing as Taylor Swift, accompanied by her owner dressed as Travis Kelce, and a Goldendoodle version of Bob Ross, along with a Snoop Dog and Chucky (the killer doll). Following these acceptees of awards were a family of WWE wrestlers, a golden retriever posing as a lion, a dog and their owner as penguins, and a banana dog. Last to accept the award was a dog dressed as Chewbacca accompanied by his owners in Princess Leia and Hans solo outfits, along with another dog wearing a Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas outfit.



Ending at around two p.m., it was apparent that the first Halloween PAW-Rade was a great success and that it brightened up the faces of many Rutherford residents. Hopefully, this light-hearted fun will become an annual tradition within the yearly Halloween festivities. Besides, who wouldn’t love to see our community’s beloved pets, who are commonly found strolling around town, instead dressed up for a candy, costume-filled occasion?


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